October 11, 2023
Trimming the grass is about to get easier – thanks to a clever new electric autonomous lawnmower from Honda.
The Japanese automaker, renowned for such big-selling cars as the Civic and CR-V SUV, will showcase its latest innovation at the Equip Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky, starting Oct. 17.
And while it has launched robotic grass cutters before, the new prototype Autonomous Work Mower (AWM) is being hailed as the company’s first battery-powered electric zero-turn mower and follows its announcement earlier this year that it would no longer sell gasoline-powered devices, due to environmental considerations.
The AWM is claimed to deliver exceptional cutting performance combined with high location accuracy and obstacle detection and can be operated either manually or autonomously.
In the manual Teaching mode, the AWM “learns” the mowing routes and patterns set by the human operator. Then, when it is in autonomous Playback mode, it is able to reproduce these.
The functionality comes via a suite of high-tech sensors and kit. First, the mowing route map is created through the Global Navigation Satellite System, for accurate location recognition.
According to Honda, the AWM is capable of learning multiple worksites, which allows different route maps to be created. These are then stored for future use on a secure cloud server.
Playback mode sees the mower ready to tackle tasks on its own. Once in its starting position, the human operator downloads the relevant map via a tablet or smartphone, and the AWM begins to mow.
The “industry-leading” performance sees the AWM maintain straight tracking and execute stable turns, even on undulating surfaces and rough terrain, thanks to a traction control system.
Its ability to avoid obstacles is facilitated by four radar and four lidar sensors, and speeds of 10 mph in Teaching mode or 6 mph in Playback are possible.
The AWM automatically reduces blade rotation at low speeds and low loads to reduce power consumption, while with high loads, speed is reduced to prevent grass clogging.
The major benefit of the AWM, according to Honda, is its ability to free up time for humans to perform other tasks. Hirokazu Hara of the American Honda Motor Co. explained: “Technology is shaping the future of the landscaping industry.
“To address labor shortages and help support companies’ sustainability goals, the Honda AWM aims to provide zero-emission alternatives to gasoline-powered mowers that can reduce operating costs and help accelerate the electrification of landscape maintenance equipment.”
Honda has already field-tested a proof-of-concept version of the AWM with a major U.S. landscaping company and says it will use the Kentucky expo to seek out other partners interested in running pilots in 2024 to enhance the mower’s development.
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