Victoria Airport pilots robot grass mower with Island Earth Landscape

Moe, the robotic grass mower, is being tested at the Victoria airport in a collaboration between the Victoria Airport Authority and its landscaping contractor Island Earth Landscape. (Victoria Airport Authority)

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.”

Ok, so a mini grass-cutting robot isn’t likely to utter those words made famous by actor Peter Weller in the original RoboCop movie, but it’s certainly gathering up blades of grass during its rounds at the Victoria International Airport.

Island Earth Landscaping has been testing out a robotic mower on airport grounds in recent weeks. Nicknamed ‘Moe’ (possibly in reference to the cleaning bot M-O in the movie Wall-E – or, the more obvious reference) the unit was designed by Husqvarna and operates within a small area, bounded by guide wires along with an on board GPS system.

Moe defines the work area, registers area completed and adjusts its cut pattern. Built-in sensors detect objects and lower the speed to avoid hard collisions.

The rechargeable unit finds its way back to its docking station, located in a small, secure house in the grass.

The smaller unit is not, however, the first in use in Greater Victoria. The Victoria Golf Course used a much larger one for a time.

RELATED: Robot greenskeeper helps Victoria Golf Club staffers keep the pace.

“The mower is easy on the environment, quiet and can virtually run anytime including at night and in the rain,” said Ken Gallant, Victoria Airport Authority (VAA) Director, Operations and Safety in a media release. “We’re pleased to partner with Island Earth Landscape and welcome the innovative technology.”

Because it has a GPS built in, Moe isn’t likely to be stolen. It also requires a password to operate and will notify its handler via text message to a Smart Phone in the event its picked up by someone or moved. It location is tracked via Google Maps.

Husqvarna, according to the VAA and Island Earth, has more than one million robotic mowers sold worldwide — mostly in Europe.

“While traditional crews are still needed for many of the services, robotic mowers will allow my crews to dedicate more time to providing value-added services to the airport and offers a new opportunity for staff to be Tech Handlers,” said Deano Ross, Operational Manager, Island Earth Landscape.

Moe, or the Husqvarna 450X Robotic Mower, charges in around 60 minutes and will work for 290 minutes on a single charge. It uses 35 watts during cutting activity and can go up hills with a maximum incline of 45 degrees.

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