No Frills Autonomous Lawnmower Gets The Job Done

[Nathan] needed an autonomous mower to help on the farm, so he built his own without breaking the bank. It might not be the prettiest machine, but it’s been keeping his roads, fences and yard clear for over a year. In the video after the break, he gives a detailed breakdown of its build and function.

It’s built around a around a simple angle-iron frame with a normal internal combustion push mower at it’s core. 18″ bicycle-type wheels are mounted at each corner, each side driven by an e-bike motors via long bicycle chains. Nathan had to add some guards around his wheel sprockets to prevent the chains slipping of due to debris.

Al the electronics and the battery is simply mounted on top of the frame, away from the motors to avoid magnetic interference with the compass. The brain of the system is a Pixhawk autopilot with a GPS module running ArduPilot, a staple for most of the autonomous rovers, boats and aircraft we’ve seen. The control station is just a Windows laptop running Mission Planner, with a 900 MHz radio link for comms with the mower. [Nathan] also gives a overview of how he uses a spreadsheet to set up waypoints.

This lawnmower’s straightforward design and use of easy-to-find components make it an excellent source of inspiration for anyone looking to build their own functional machine.

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Draw On Your Lawn With This Autonomous Mower And RTK-GPS

The rise of open source hardware has seen a wide variety of laborious tasks become successfully automated, saving us humans a great deal of hassle.  Suffice to say, some chores are easier to automate than others. Take the classic case of a harmless autonomous vacuum cleaner that can be pretty dumb, bumping around the place to detect the perimeter as it traverses the room blindly with a pre-programmed sweeping pattern.

Now in principle, this idea could be extended to mowing your lawn. But would you really want a high speed rotating blade running rampant as it aimlessly ventures outside the perimeter of your lawn? The Sunray update to the Ardumower autonomous lawn mower project has solved this problem without invoking the need to lay down an actual perimeter wire. As standard consumer grade GPS is simply not accurate enough, so the solution involves implementing your very own RTK-GPS hardware and an accompanying base station, introducing centimeter-level accuracy to your mowing jobs.

RTK-GPS, also known as Carrier Phase Enhanced GPS, improves the accuracy of standard GPS by measuring the error in the signal using a reference receiver whose position is known accurately. This information is then relayed to the Ardumower board over a radio link, so that it could tweak its position accordingly. Do you need the ability to carve emojis into your lawn? No. But you could have it anyway. If that’s not enough to kick off the autonomous lawnmower revolution, we don’t know what is.

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