River and Bay authority buys driverless mower for steep slopes

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The  Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) has now expanded its use of autonomous vehicles with the acquisition of a remote control lawn mower. 

 The mower is designed to maintain grass on steep inclines safer and more efficiently compared to the traditional slope mowers. 

The new Spider, capable of mowing fine turf as well as heavy brush on flat areas, was purchased for $46,000. 

According to Douglas Clark, landscape  supervisor at the DRBA, the main reason for purchasing the new equipment is employee safety. 

 “We maintain a number of slopes and inclines near the overpasses that span Interstate 295,” Clark said.  “With the purchase of the Spider ILD02, our maintenance personnel no longer have to manually operate a slope mower on those inclines, sharply reducing the chance of an accident or injury occurring.” 

The Spider ILD02 mower is an  autonomous vehicle that allows the operator to be positioned at a safe distance away while the machine is working on a slope

Due to its light weight structure, low center of gravity, and distinct drive system, the Spider mower is able to mow steep slopes with an incline up to 40 degrees.  

With the integrated hydraulic winch,  climbing ability can reach up to 55 degrees of incline.

Clark added,  “While this Spider mower may be smaller than our current slope mowers, it is capable of mowing roughly the same daily amount on our steep slopes as the current mowers with less environmental impact.” 

With its unique wheel drive, the Spider mower is not only gentle to grass but eliminates erosion on slopes and soil compaction. This innovative Spider mower also has low fuel consumption which greatly lowers its emissions, a release noted.

During the past two years, the Authority has participated in a drone test inspection of the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the first air/water drone inspection demonstration.

In addition, the authority hosted a drone “Do Tank’ at the Cape May ferry terminal that demonstrated the effectiveness of drone technology in disaster relief efforts and also provided a platform for Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to test new communication technology at the ferry. 

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