automatic robot mower for airports: revisit: case feedback

 Automatic mower for an airport: case study

Whatever the risk and security management, airports will always have their specific needs and regulations, over and above protection of the local flora and fauna and maintenance of green spaces. Management and reduction of CO2 emissions is also gaining critical importance in a world in which air travel can hardly be accused of enjoying the best of reputations.

All of the above points are, of course, critical, but they cannot camouflage the importance of cost management. All these realities taken together argue the case in favour of the use of automatic mowers, since they allow positive action on each one of these points.

Certain airports, such as Sola in Norway, are currently using as many as 26 Belrobotics robots 24/7. However, so far there are no precise or objective studies available. In early August 2021 Purdue University published a study on the impact of automatic robot mowers on the sustainable aspect of an airport. This university has an airport (KLAF) that was the scene of a study conducted with the aid of an Echorobotics robots. Here are just some of its analyses:

 

 Risk management

Risk management is obviously of critical importance for airports. Automation does allow the removal of some of the risks for the staff (mowing in critical zones) but, on the other hand, it must of course be checked so as to be sure that it does not in itself constitute a risk

In the case of a robot mower, Purdue University Airport opted for certain specific zones so as to guarantee maximum safety, but was satisfied with the safety procedures in connection with the mower:

  • The peripheral cable that prevents the mower from escaping the predefined zone. The power supply to the mower is cut outside the zone.
  • The internal software preventing the mower from being activated outside its zone (and therefore reduced interest in stealing the robot mower).
  • The mower’s proximity-sensors prevent the risk of collision with an object or with a person.
  • The application allows remote tracking of the status of the mower and the sending of a certain number of commands.

To guarantee near-zero risk they also have an integrated cross-rail physical barrier system.

One of the teething problems seemed to be the number of alerts during the first tests. Even so, with 23 alerts over 562 hours of mowing in the first test, the robot mower booked only 2 alerts over 1 115 hours of mowing in the final test after modifications to the grounds and the software. This shows the importance of correct installation and a certain number of tests.

Bigmow on Stavanger Airport Norway

 Reduced costs

One of the main advantages of this study seems to be the reduction of necessary staff and the resulting reduction of associated costs. It is, of course, clear that personnel will always be necessary to carry out the inspection and maintenance of the grounds, robots and charging station, but these points are minor compared with the time required for a “good, old-fashioned” mow. The university even made arrangement for comparative tests to be conducted, measured against a conventional mow.

One of the notes made concerned the random mow and the possible benefits of a mow with a GPR RTK model. This option is already being developed and is now available, much further increasing the efficiency of the robot, since it can now cut in straight lines. This development is certainly much more important for an airport. It should be remembered that security considerations make the use of a robot difficult in certain critical zones. But, as the study explains, it is possible to shut down certain zones during slack periods, often at night. With an RTK model you can work up to 3 times more surface than with a conventional model. So you can cover a much bigger surface during these quiet times!

Reduction of CO2 emissions

Fuel requirements, mostly in conventional mowing methods, can hardly be overstated. In the U.S.A. they represent more than 300 million litres of fuel and 5% of atmospheric pollution. Opting for a 100% electric alternative would allow reduction of these emissions of CO2 and the carbon footprint of an airport. As the study indicates, this would also be a visible sign of these efforts.

So, robot mowers are very interesting little helpers for the most complex and secured areas, airports, industrial zones, etc. If you would like more information on their possibilities, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

GPS mower: what about the peripheral wire? – Belrobotics

GPS robot mower and peripheral wire

Launched in the spring of 2021 the new range of professional robot mowers by Belrobotics shows real progress by means of advanced GPS technology. The advantages of GPS mowers are many and various: the ability to cut in straight lines, precision, speed, etc. Which raises the question of the usefulness of the peripheral wire for many present or future users. Is there really still any point in a mower that trims to the millimetre?

A “useless” but vital peripheral wire

RTK technology enables trimming exact to the millimetre and therefore allows, at least in theory, working without the wire. However, we at Belrobotics have decided not to abandon its use and this for several reasons.

The risk of hacking or piracy

The robot’s work zones are defined in a web portal and they may be adjusted. Obviously, GPS technology can only ensure respect of a run defined by a user. The fact of being able to redefine the zone is extremely practical for certain clients, who may exclude occupied or works areas according to specific priorities or requirements.

However, that same advantage also involves a risk. Although our platform is secure and protected, there is no such thing as 100% zero-risk technology. If a hacker should somehow manage to enter an account, he could change the trimming zone. A mower could therefore suddenly turn up one fine day on a playground, in the middle of a busy road, or even on an airport runway. Once this peripheral wire is correctly installed, the robot mower will not be able to leave its zone, even if control of the account is hijacked. For ourselves and for the client alike, this is therefore an extra security.

 Mowing even in wooded areas

an area in which GPS mowing is complex

 

Another interesting advantage of the peripheral wire: the possibility of mixing GPS mowing and conventional automatic mowing in specific cases. On certain difficult grounds the position of trees or other elements may complicate GPS signal reception. In that case it is possible to regulate the trim so that those places will be mown in a conventional way. Which is why you will need a peripheral wire. So, you will get a quick, efficient cut for most of the ground, but wooded or complex areas are also trimmed to perfection.

 

a zone with GPS and conventional mowing run

If you still have any questions about installing a peripheral wire for a robot mower you can consult our article and either contact us or a Belrobotics dealership. We can also give you any further information about all our models and their advantages.

 

 

 

 

The right cutting height for your sports ground

The right cutting height for a sports lawn

The mowing of a sports pitch, court or the like is a capital operation, since it keeps the lawn or turf in the best possible condition for the game. However, depending on the kind of grass chosen, and also according to the game itself, it is sometimes complicated to decide the optimum cutting height to satisfy both parameters.

Did you know that, for grounds, regular mowing has other benefits such as making the grass denser and thus increasing the lawn’s resistance.

 According to the type of grass

The first thing to remember when it comes to the cutting height is the type of grass that constitutes your sports field. The species are often chosen according to several parameters such as:

  • climate,
  • resistance,
  • regeneration capacity,
  • game quality,
  • aesthetic aspect.

These various species and varieties all have different intrinsic qualities that may influence the cutting height:

 English ray grass

Known to science as Lolium perenne, this species is resistant to uprooting and also has the advantage of rapid settling down and growth, even in cool conditions (around the 10 °C mark), but does not tolerate dry conditions particularly well. However, this species offers little resistance to cutting below 30 mm.

Recommended cutting height: min. 30 mm.

 Smooth or common meadow-grass

Known to science as Poa pratensis, this species too displays good robustness with its/thanks to its underground lateral rhizomes and deep downward rootedness, strengthening the top layer of the lawn. It also has a useful resistance to frost but, on the other hand, it sprouts and grows slowly (up to 21 days to sprout, compared with 4 to 8 days for English ray grass). This species is also often used in combination with other species.

Recommended cutting height: min. 15 mm.

 Tall fescue

Known to science as Festuca arundinacea, this grass thrives in difficult conditions such as persistent drought or stagnant humidity. Like meadow-grass, its germination can be somewhat slow (up to 20 days) but again, like meadow-grass, it puts down tough roots and displays a high degree of resistance.

Recommended cutting height: min. 25 mm.

General advice: avoid any problems by not cutting more than one third of the stalk height at one time.

 

 According to the type of sport practised

Football, rugby, hockey, etc. Each sport requires its own adapted pitch, field or lawn.

Football clubs, for example, like a nice flat pitch for ball control and good rebounds while also offering a certain firmness to support the players. A good planarity will also offer better safety by limiting falls. Certain leading associations such as UEFA regulate pitch cutting height. In fact, that very body prohibits a cutting height of more than 30 mm and recommends a height of approximately 28 mm instead.

The cutting height also influences the speed of the ball. For rugby, it is important that the pitch offers a high degree of resistance to explosive running. That resistance must of course be present, but there must also be some suppleness to limit the number of injuries when the players happen to crash down.

Lawn use Cutting height

Posted in FAQ

Theft and vandalism of robot lawnmowers: not as common as you’d think!

Follow your robot with the “Connected Line”!

From now on, thanks to our Connected Line range of robotic lawn mowers, you’ll not only receive a text message when your mower is moved to an unusual location, but you can also track its position on the mobile app or on your web browser!

Similarly, if you need to mow a public area and are worried about vandalism, you can rest assured that if any problem should arise, the app will immediately notify you. Whether the mower’s been overturned or moved, or even if the blade has been blocked, you’ll be alerted of any problem and will immediately be able to solve it.

Lawn mower theft is rare and pointless

Beyond the fact that stealing a traceable robot mower with integrated GPS can prove dangerous for a thief, it is also pointless, since these machines are aimed at a niche market. Moreover, the risk is further lessened by some key characteristics. First of all, a robot mower can’t function without its charging station. Secondly, since all our mowers are linked to their location, we will immediately be alerted if one is connected to a different charging station. Another important point is that our mowers are too big to fit into the boot of an average-sized car.

One might think that it’s still possible to steal a robot to sell the parts – but the risk is not really worth the trouble, and what’s more, all of its parts are custom made, which makes any theft completely pointless.

Vandalism of robotic lawnmowers: not a cause for concern

Like theft, the vandalism of robots is a rare occurrence. Most of the time, the only issues are caused by the blades being damaged by forgotten objects on the ground that were too small to be detected. Thankfully, one damaged blade is not enough to stop the mower working, so you can still use it while you wait for a technician to replace it. Also, don’t forget that the bodies of our mowers are rotomolded, making them capable of resisting the full force of a football (100 km/h) or even a golf ball (200 km/h). And finally, should your robot mower be tagged by a graffiti artist, at least it will be fully customised!

If your lawn mower did get vandalised, you would be immediately warned, as explained above. Moreover, technological advances mean that our new range of robotic mowers is more resistant than ever. From the body to the wheels and connectors, all of its materials are reliable and ultra-robust. In fact, our mowers are the most resistant on the market.

If you’re still worried, don’t forget that you can set the mowing times yourself and for example, programme the mower to mow early in the morning. You can also place the charging station in an area that can be locked at night or at other high-risk times. But to be totally convinced, nothing beats a trial period! And we offer a six-month trial period for a very reasonable price, so you can explore all the possibilities of our robotic lawn mowers.

To sum up, you needn’t worry. Although these situations do occasionally occur, the three main alerts are more likely to be caused by the below problems rather than theft or vandalism:

  • A wire broken by an external factor such as a blow from a spade, for instance.
  • A robot which cannot find its charging station.
  • An error caused by a blocked cutting head due to an external factor such as a bottle, can or branch.

If you would like to receive more information on all these points, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts or search for a retailer!

Posted in FAQ

A garage for your robot mower: useful or not?

A robot mower can be left outside

High-quality robot mowers are built to be left outdoors throughout the mowing season. Belrobotics robot mowers have an aluminium and stainless-steel chassis, hence their strength and stability are guaranteed. What’s more, their charging base must be located in a strategic area. The robot must be able to align its charging contacts easily with the station. Not putting this in a corner or close to a source of water (for the magnetic waves) are standard requirements.

A garage is not indispensable, but …

Although on the face of it the robot doesn’t require any additional protection, the option of a garage may be wise, in order to:

  • Protect from the elements and other damage

Hail, snow, branches, or bird droppings can affect the robot. If it is frequently exposed to severe weather or a risk of external damage, covering it will prove wise, though mainly to protect the robot from the point of view of its appearance.

  • Protecting from projectile impacts

Although the robot mower itself is able to withstand impacts from golf balls, another use for a garage is to protect the charging station from projectiles. Take the case of a golf course or football ground: errant balls can hit the station’s sonar or charging arm and damage it. In this instance, metal mesh is one option for protecting the station.

  • Leaving the robot to recharge away from humans

Public parks and green spaces are places where a great many people pass through. People respect the robots, but can sometimes move the robot without meaning to and interrupt the charging. In this case, a small protective housing like the one here at the “Strandbad” beach at Lake Thun in Switzerland can be useful.

  • Making the landscape more attractive

The garage can also serve a decorative function. Some owners like to customize the installation and choose this option simply for the beauty of the structure. Conversely, robot lifts allow the machine to be completely hidden away!

Do note that the protection function does not extend to vandalism. Discouraging the latter, quite apart from the fact it is extremely rare, does not specially require a garage. On this topic, consult our article on robot mower vandalism.

Posted in FAQ

Are robot mowers safe?

The various safety systems on Belrobotics robot mowers

1Sonar

A sonar system allows the robot to detect the presence of people or animals and objects close to its route (as long as the obstacle is at least 50 cm high with a diameter of at least 10 cm). The warning issued by the sonar causes the robot to slow down immediately.

sécurités sur les robots tondeuses belrobotics

2Reversing detectors

As soon as it first encounters the obstacle, the robot mower stops and changes direction. The pressure-sensitive bumper allows very quick reaction, even in the case of a very slight contact. Hence the robot is capable of turning round with no human involvement.

3Lift detectors

When the robot is lifted, the lift detectors trip automatically and the cutting heads stop rotating. If the action is caused by human intervention, the mower stops dead; if an obstacle is the reason, the robot manœuvres so as to be able to continue mowing.

Retractable blades fitted to Belrobotics robots

sécurités sur les robots tondeuses belrobotics

Safety is very much central to the design considerations for Belrobotics robot mowers. Among other things, it is the subject of a special patent concerning its cutting blades. The latter retract automatically when they come into contact with an object. Result: accidents are minimized (any injury caused by the robot will be of the nature of a cut, rather than a severed limb) and the robot’s blades remain intact. Protection and safety are fully optimized, while still guaranteeing an impeccable cut. Note that the number and seriousness of accidents are much less that those caused by conventional tractor mowers.

sécurités sur les robots tondeuses belrobotics

All the same, are there still precautions to be taken?

It is strongly recommended to clear the grass of any objects (like toys or bulky tree branches) and to keep children and animals away from the robot when it is moving. Children and persons with impaired physical, sensorial, or mental abilities are forbidden to handle the robot or charging station. And users must have familiarized themselves with the process for using the robot.

Contact our professional teams for any further questions.

Posted in FAQ

How to get rid of moles? 5 tips!

1Moles are not haemophiliac!

One myth it’s handy to be aware of to avoid wasting your time any more. An enduring rumour claims moles are haemophiliac. As a result, many people make all sorts of traps – equally dangerous for humans and pets – thinking this will rid them of moles. So, forget about using broken glass and other sharp objects in your green spaces – there’s no use trying to injure the moles, and it is not recommended.

2Natural remedies for driving moles away

There are lots of natural remedies going around for driving moles away. Among the commonest and most reliable:

  • Dog hair in the tunnels
  • Elderberry: either concentrated, directly in the molehills, or branches close to the area to be protected
  • The strong odours of garlic or onion (fairly poor reliability, but less toxic than mothballs)
  • A stick planted in the entrance to the tunnel

 

3Mole traps and mole catchers

A mole catcher is by definition a person whose job is to destroy moles. However, there are a few mole catchers who don’t kill the moles, but combat the animal while keeping it alive. In either case, the mole catcher knows the animal and its habits very well, and usually has traps that are environmentally-friendly solutions. Watch a video on a mole trap laid by the mole catcher at the Palace of Versailles with the added bonus of a commentary by the late Jean-Pierre Coffe!

4Moles don’t like noise and ultrasound!

Moles have a highly-developed sense of hearing – unlike their eyesight, which deteriorates as they get older. So moles are extremely sensitive to noise and vibration.

  • Home-made

One common method is to position sticks carrying half an upside-down plastic bottle at the entrance to the tunnels. It may not look very attractive, but it’s effective in driving away the moles!

  • Ultrasonic devices

Another frequently used alternative is to buy ultrasonic devices. These gadgets operate using either solar power or batteries. But watch out, as you’ll need a substantial number of devices to actually get rid of these infernal squatters.

5Repeated mowing! 

Greenmow Belrobotics

Yes: mowing drives moles away. However, mowing isn’t going to get rid of them for good. Like all the natural solutions, sound and ultrasound have to be repeated. The solution: repeated mowing?! Yes – but using a robot mower!

That will mean silence but constant ultrasound. And a magnificent lawn to boot – with no effort. Want to find out more about robot mowers?
Discover the Belrobotics ranges of robot mowers. These Masters of the Lawn will solve quite a few of your garden maintenance problems!

Has this summary of tips and myths about getting rid of moles helped you see things a bit more clearly? Don’t hesitate to share this article on social media.

Posted in FAQ

Care and maintenance of Belrobotics robotic mowers

What can an owner do to preserve a robot?

Your robotic mower is autonomous. It maintains your grounds according to programming based on your requirements and the needs of the grounds. Even so, certain steps should be taken regularly to maintain optimum robot operation and to ensure a longer working life:

  • Clear any branches or other refuse from the ground
  • Check that the ground has no big holes that the robot could become stuck in.
  • Use a brush or compressed air gun to clean the robot’s wheels and cutting heads (repeat every three days in rainy weather, and occasionally in dry weather).
  • Check the charging contacts on the robot and the station.
    For stations with the old copper charging arms (pre-2016), some oxidation may occur.
    To avoid charging errors, buff from time to time using sandpaper.
  • The cutters must be replaced at least once every three or four months.

For the sake of its appearance, feel free to wash the robot’s chassis using clean or soapy water.

Is end-of-season servicing necessary, and where do I go for that?

Just like a car, a robotic mower needs annual servicing. Because they cover 5000 to 8000 km per year, these robots must be serviced by professionals. This servicing is performed according to a detailed maintenance plan. The robot is disassembled, inspected, cleaned, and certain parts are automatically replaced. The software is updated and the wheel motors are greased. The electronics, sonar system, and wiring are checked.

Contact one of the many Belrobotics dealers for this annual servicing or any concerns.

Where should I store the robot during the winter?

When not in use, the robot should be stored in a location protected from frost and humidity. Apply this procedure before an idle period:

  • Carry out a final cleaning before storage.
  • Charge the battery and set the switch to “Off”.

The charging station may remain outdoors if it remains connected to its electrical power supply.

Posted in FAQ

What about theft or vandalism of robotic mowers?

Locating the robot precisely

The latest generations of robotic mowers are equipped with a GPS system so that the robot can be located in real time. An SMS alert notifies the owner and the Belrobotics control centre as soon as an abnormal movement occurs. The Track & Trace system also informs us of the slightest operating error.

Very few robotic mower thefts

Why are robotic mower thefts not more frequent? Even if it is easy to gain access to a property to steal a robotic mower, the theft will serve no purpose. The robot cannot function alone, and an expert technician is required to install the station and make it operational. This would also apply to any other property for which it is intended.

Deliberate vandalism or accidental damage

Accidental damage is the most common case. It generally occurs on public property. Negligent behaviour by visitors, such as leaving drink cans or clothing lying on the ground, causes minor damage. Intentional damage is rare. However, if a robot is attacked—subjected to a person’s weight, overturned, or having objects thrown at it—the security system immediately detects this and notifies the person in charge.

What solutions are available in case of such incidents?

Home insurance usually covers robots for theft or damage. It is important to find out what type of policy you have, and the maximum amount of cover your insurer provides.
If the cover is insufficient, a private customer may ask the insurer for a ‘Garden Package’. This will cover the robot as well as any outdoor furniture. A professional customer may contact an insurance broker for equipment Theft & Damage insurance that covers robots.

  • Belrobotics robotic mowers are equipped with an extremely robust aluminium chassis that is separate from its hood, unlike other brands, which have a monobloc structure.
  • Each part can be replaced individually, so the mower can almost always be repaired.

For more information on this subject, contact the Belrobotics team. We are at your service!

Posted in FAQ