Naperville Park District testing autonomous lawnmowers

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These lawnmowers, sprouting up in some Naperville parks, are missing one typical component… A rider. They’re autonomous mowers, currently being tested by the Naperville Park District at White Eagle, Kingshill, and Monarch parks.

The mowers are contracted with Naperville-based company, Havenshine Technologies, inc. Park district officials say they are both practical and economical.

Why does the Naperville Park District need autonomous mowers?

“It’s no secret that many industries are suffering from a lack of labor over the last couple of years,” said Naperville Park District, Director of Parks, Tim Quigley. “At a park like this (Monarch Park), you’d have at least a couple of individuals operating mowers, and string trimmers, [along with] doing any blowing behind them. From this demo out here today, you can see that they’ve got one staff member and then two autonomous mowers.”

What comes with the autonomous mowing service

Havenshine Technologies provides the mowers and one staff member to supervise at each location. The mowers are programmed for each specific site, using GPS, cameras, and active optical sensors that can detect obstacles and shut down the blades if needed. The mowers shown in the video reached speeds of up to 6.5 mph.

Havenshine’s founder, Ilya Sagalovich, has had experience in a similar field. He previously worked in the autonomous vehicle industry.

“After having some conversations with professionals in the industry, that combined with me not enjoying that much of cutting the grass at my own house, I decided to look into that industry and then realized there’s a big potential to address both efficiency and environmental sustainability,” said Sagalovich.

Havenshine Technologies currently operates with three mowers that can each cut at least one acre of grass in about 30 minutes. The company is looking to expand its product line, including the potential use of smaller mowers.

“We’ve experimented with even smaller models in the past, so we’ve looked at using some like 26-inch models, and right now we are looking at 60-inch for our next version,” said Sagalovich.

The Naperville Park District will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the autonomous mowers. The mowing robots will be at work for the remainder of the mowing season.

The “cutting” edge technology could be implemented at more parks in the coming years.

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