Wetterskip Fryslân is spearheading the plan, which could see hundreds of the small orange mowers on the Wadden Sea dykes
Translated by Thomas Ansell
The robotic mowers have no CO2 emissions, and are powered entirely by solar power. At the end of the day, the sustainable mowers then travel back to their ‘night loft’, where they are charged from batteries that will one day hopefully themselves be replenished by sunlight.
The current test mower will be running on the dyke until the 10th October: after which the Wetterskip Fryslân will make a decision as to whether to roll out the idea further. The company’s twitter announced the new move with the simple question: “what has happened to all of our sheep?”- sheep are usually used as ‘natural mowers’ for the dykes.
Jan Wolters of the Wetterskip Fryslân had an answer to the twitter question, “there is some recreational pressure, because we have people on the dyke”. Previously, the Wetterskip used a tractor with mower attachment, but, Wolters explains, that isn’t a long-term solution: “sometimes we have to do it every week. But we want to become CO2-neutral, and there are new apparatus on the market. Therefore we want to see if some of these other apparatuses work.” This robotic test is part of several initiatives, all with the intention that the company should become climate neutral by 2030.
Naturally, a testing period comes first, because there are various questions to be asked of the robotic mower fleet: “How do they work? What are the costs of repairs? Will people leave the machines alone? How many hectares can each machine do? Eventually, we will see if we can use this in a wider context,” said Wolters.
Each of the small mowers is a possible target for thieves, however the Wetterskip have come up with an ingenious solution to the problem: “there is a camera in each machine, and also a tracker, so we can always find it”, said Wolters.
Officially, the robot mowers are known as the ‘Husqvarna Automower’, and the trial is being developed in collaboration with Veenma Mechanisatie from Dokkum.