This article is the *very* compacted version of the ULTIMATE guide of the automower, an in depth serie of 11 articles.
After a survey conducted in 2019, the automower was elected by more than 50% of the course manager, as the most interesting robot. But what are 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. Respectively named 520, 550 and 535 AWD, those automower have each their own specs.
The model 520 and 550 are almost identical, except the 550 can mow double the surface and is equipped with ultra-wave sensors.
The model 535 AWD is a lot different, equipped with a “butt” that can turn at 90 degrees and all wheels drive configuration, the robot can work on slope up to 70% (35°).
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 produces an extremely clean cut of every blade of grass!
The automower are fully electric and autonomous, meaning they will return to charge on their own.
Out of the box the height of cut is too high for fairways, but the romba can be equipped with a fairway kit which is composed of a new cutting disk and two spacers.
Here are the HOC achievable.
How to install the Automower?
The current generation of automower require the installation of a cable in the ground. The cable can be installed from 0cm up to 20cm deep to allow sub surface maintenance.
It is not recommended to make longer loop than 800m. The same loop can be installed around obstacles within the mowing surface, so the robot will not bump into it or fall on a trap.
There are multiple ways to install the cables, you can peg it to the ground or burry it using an adapted machine. In our case we choose to use the Line Ward L2, which is one of the very machines that can install cable that deep.
Another cable you will need to install is a power source for the charging station of the robot. Installing a power cable all around the course can quickly be expensive so another solution would be to use a solar panel powered station. That can be installed in less than half an hour.
How to use the automower?
The 500serie’s robot are screenless, all the control happens with the application “AMC” by Husqvarna. You can access the status of mower (charge, alarms, schedule, HOC) from the home screens, or you have deeper setting such as mowing pattern, mower house, reverse distance, corridors… etc). AMC is also the app you will use to turn off alarms.
Despite there is no limit of how many numbers of robots you can log in, AMC is not really designed to take care of a whole fleet, for that, there is… the fleet service.
A web / app available on both smartphone / tablets and web browser. You can oversee your entire fleet either on the maps or on a list, and you can change generals settings on all or a selection of robot at once. The fleet is also really handy when you want to park all robots at once because of a tournament or a thunderstorm.
Our experience with the automower.
Reminder, this is a compact version of the ULTIMATE guide of the automower where you will find detailed information and pictures.
The Automower is a very unusual machine for turf managers and get use to it take a bit of time.
At first the results can be at best passable, or straight terrible for some… but that’s normal!
The main change you will notice is the lack of clean up pass. The robot is cutting the edges by constantly bouncing from one side to another, so for the first weeks you will notice a saw-tooth effect of the edges. Once the robot is getting use to area this syndrome is no more and the robot offer a high-quality cut at all time, which is the strength of the romba. A perfect turf 24/7.
One of the problems that can occur is the clippings building up on the wheels of robots, not only it can leave some clumbs behind it, but it can also affect the HOC buy tilting the robot few millimetres, potentially resulting in scalping or missing the desired height of cut. Luckily this problem can be solved by installing some homemade kit of brush around the robot.
Maintenance wise, the automower require very little maintenance but a constant look out. The romba is using tiny razor sharps blades that can quickly get dull, around 2 to 3 weeks in the season. If not changed in time, the robot will keep mowing and damaging your grass tips. Changing the blades take around 2minutes per mower, and cost around 3€ a set, peanuts.
And… that’s all for the maintenance. Because that’s all you can do.
Changing a broken motor? Updating the software? You will need to use the Autocheck software… which is only available for the dealers. It’s is rather frustrating and there is nothing we can do about it. The only tips I can recommend, is to order an extra 2-3 robots, so you always have a back up units in case one need to return to the dealer.
Overall, the automower has been extremely successful to us, it has proven is capacity to do as good, even better than a conventional reel mower…
Want to know EVERYTHING about the automower? Don’t miss the ULTIMATE guide of the automower, a serie of 11 in depth article revealing every secret of the romba.