[mowbot] A modest proposal

Dana Gould (dgould nospam at usa1.com)
Thu, 26 Sep 1996 16:41:10 -0400

In reading some of the posts to this group, it
occurs to me that some people are talking at
cross purposes because of different assumptions
about the requirements for a mowbot.

In this post I want to try to define some of the
assumptions implicit in the mowbot problem.

I think there are two dimensions to the problem.

1) lawn size

small size - less than 1/2 acre
medium size - 1/2 to 1 acre
large size - 1 to 2 acres
very large - more than 2 acres

2) lawn topography

low complexity - flat or almost flat, few
or no obstacles
medium complexity - modest slopes, some
high complexity - hilly, many obstacles

For example, the Lawn Ranger seems to be mainly
intended for small lawns of low complexity.

As lawn size grows, then power requirements would
grow. Battery operation would be less practical
as you go from small to medium to large lawns. I
suspect from large to very large lawns, gas power
would become more practical. But this is not a
hard and fast rule.

Similarly, as lawn complexity grows, then sensor,
navigation, and guidance complexity would grow.
A simple "bounce off the edge of the lawn" strategy
works fine for low complexity lawns. Obviously, as
lawn complexity grows, more "intelligence"
(whatever that means) would be required to guide
the mowbot.

(For the purpose of this discussion I'm defining
navigation as "where am I now" and guidance as
"which way do I go now".)

I hope this helps the discussion by giving a
simple framework to some of the various problems
and proposed solutions.

Personally, I'm interested in a mowbot capable
of mowing a large size lawn (actually 3 medium
size areas) of medium to high complexity each.

Sorry if I sound a little pedantic, I get that
way sometimes. :)