This is the first article of a series of 11, you can read the next part using the link at the end of the page.
In a changing world the golf industry is facing multiple challenges; labor shortages, environmental constraints, budget restrictions… one of the responses to these challenges lies with those little robots, called the automower.
What are the automower?
“Automower” is the commercial name used by Husqvarna to describe their robots, that we could categorize as a “romba robot”.
There are a dozen different models of automower, but today we will focus on the professional line, the 500 series. There are 3 different variants of the 500:
The model 520 (left) can mow up to 2200m² +/-% with slopes up to 45% or 24° and weigh only 12 kilos (26lbs). The 520 is not equipped with ultra-wave sensors and will interact with the obstacles at top speed. The battery last around 75 minutes and take 50 minutes to charge. The 520 can mow 92m² (0,02acres) per hour.
The model 550 (right) can mow up to 5000m² (1,25 acres) with a slope up to 45% or 24° and weighs only 13.5 kilos (30lbs). The 550 is the highest tier of the 500 series and is equipped with ultra-wave sensors that slow down the robot before it interacts with any obstacles. The battery lasts 4,5 hours and will fully charge in one hour only! The 550 can mow 210m² (0.05acres) per hour.
The 550 can be installed in a loop of 2 or 3. This option is called the Club Solution and only works with the 550.
A slightly different model, the 535 AWD is an all-wheel drive model, it can only mow 3500m² (0,9 acres) but can cope with slopes up to 70% or 35°! The battery lasts 100 minutes and charges in only 30 minutes. Not only can this robot climb walls, but it is also equipped with a 90° rotating “butt” which make it extremely efficient. The 535AWD can mow 150m² (0,035acre) per hour.
At the antipodes of the conventional fairway mower, the automowers are using a completely different cutting system, they are equipped with 3 razor sharp blades on a plastic cutting disk, horizontally spinning at around 2600 rpm, it produce an extremely clean cut of every blade of grass!
The secret of the quality of cut lies in the frequency of cut. By mowing in a random pattern, the robot mows the same area multiple times in the day, cutting only millimetres at each pass. This mowing pattern guarantees an impressive consistent and clipping free result.
To achieve similar heights of cut (HOC) as a conventional mower, you need to equip the romba with an additional fairway kit. The kit is composed of 3 parts, two different spacers and a new cutting disk. This kit enables the robot to achieve HOC as low as 10mm (0.394″). As the mower only raises by 5mm (0.19″) steps, the second spacer is 2.5mm higher, achieving 12.5mm (0.492″).
To maintain quality of cut (QOC) for longer periods, I recommend using the endurance blades. The longer hole helps the blade to spin on itself and retract to remove potential clipping build-up.
How to install the robots?
No matter which robot you choose, the installation will be almost identical.
To be autonomous, the robot requires a boundary wire to be installed. You can also instal up to 3 guides wires to create zones/routes for the robots.
Click here to read “Part 2: Preparation and installation.”