Robotic grass cutting in Hampshire: Good idea for the Isle of Wight too?

They’re starting to use Robotic grass cutting in Hampshire (details in here). Would it be an idea that would translate to the Isle of Wight as well to you think?

Robocutter June 2018 - Hampshire council

Since the roads PFI started there’s been a lot of discussion about the cutting of grass verges by Island Roads. We found out what they’re up to in Hampshire and thought we’d bring it to you as it might fire some discussion here. Could robots cutting the grass the the future? – Ed

It is something that until fairly recently was only seen in science fiction films from the 1960s.

But now robotic lawnmowers are set to be introduced across the county as part of a massive trial.

Hampshire County Council bosses want to use the machines to manage the grass areas of the region’s 5,500 miles of road, and 2,000 miles of roadside verges.

Guided by ‘smart technology’
The machines will be guided using “smart technology” to easily navigate around obstacles and pre-set boundaries. It will also be operated by a member of the council’s maintenance team.

This, council chiefs say, will mean reduced disruption for road users as less traffic management – such as cones – will be needed, as operators will be standing further away from the roadways – making it safer than conventional cutting methods.

Costs unconfirmed
However, the council were unable to confirm how many machines will be used or how much it is costing.

Grass cutting on rural roads is carried out once a year by the authority.

Environment and transport boss, councillor Rob Humby, said:

“Grass cutting is an important part of our annual highways maintenance programme as good visibility is vital for all those using the road to maintain clear lines of sight.

“We are always looking at how we can harness technology to improve what we do – whether it’s a more cost effective, quicker, or more efficient way to carry out highways maintenance. In this case, using a robotic grass cutter means that less cones and other traffic management measures are needed on the roads, so disruption to traffic should be minimised.”

Starting to be used
The machines, which are now starting to be used, have been supplied by Skanska – the company appointed to deliver highways maintenance services in the county over the next seven years.

Business director Matthew Riches said:

“The robotic cutters use smart technology to easily navigate around obstacles and pre-set boundaries. This means they can be used in areas where traffic travels at higher speeds and where it would be more dangerous for our workers to operate, keeping them safer.”

Extra care for Ecological Verges
The council also said that it takes extra care to manage more than 200 “Roadside Verges of Ecological Importance”. Verge cutting is timed to manage these areas, which are home to rare flower species.

Cllr Humby added:

“As I’m sure gardeners across Hampshire are well aware, the combination of warm and wet weather we’ve had recently has resulted in rapid growth.

“Hampshire Highways teams are out around the county ensuring that roadside verges are cut back to improve visibility and safety for everyone who uses the roads.”

This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some additions by OnTheWight. Ed

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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4 Comments on "Robotic grass cutting in Hampshire: Good idea for the Isle of Wight too?"

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If it results in just lines of sight being cut rather than the indiscriminate destruction of wildflowers/grasses in verges where there is no need to cut.especially when the flowers are in full bloom and not seeded then worth considering but not easy to see how the robots could be programmed successfully in view of the types of roads we have onthe Island.

If they have to navigate around all the bottles, cans and piles of dog waste they will burn an awful lot of petrol. Petrol much better spent by the robots who use blowers to move grass and leaves from one bit of verge to another. When I asked IWC about that, they said it was “out of our control, it’s part of the contract”! And they could… Read more »

How interesting that in this mail-out, there is a letter condeming the verge cutting, then a bit further down this article appears….!

Sally Perry

A total coincidence. Don sent his letter in on Wednesday, but we were waiting for photos, which came the following day. Then this robot verge cutter news came out from Hampshire the same day.