Thursday, November 27, 2008

Along comes a robotic mower that's also a security guard

OK, here’s a question for you — which will come first:

A robotic mower that can be used for daily commercial mowing?
We land a man on Mars?

We ask that because we’ve seen or read about more than a dozen units designed and built by university students over the years, mostly in competitions. And we’ve also seen several attempts at producing and marketing robotic mowers that can be used by commercial cutters. But all have fallen far short of exciting grounds professionals or landscape maintenance companies. Yes, there are several neat little robotic mowers that would probably do quite well for a homeowner, although even these look more like novelties than work machines.

Now comes two students at Louisiana State University’s department of computer science with their AgBot, a prototype robot that can be used for multiple tasks, such as mowing, seeding, fertilizing, and since it’s also equipped with a night vision camera positioned atop a 360-degree swivel, a high-frequency alarm system and a motion sensor it can double as a night watchman.

Click on the headline to see the students putting the AgBot through its paces.

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