The greenkeeper robots of the future of golf

One of the standout products among the various stands at the fair is automated robotic lawnmowers

by Andrea Gussoni
The greenkeeper robots of the future of golf
© Getty Images Sport - Mike Ehrmann / Staff

Last week, the eighth edition of MyPlant took place at the Milan Fair, one of the largest trade fairs in the green sector. Among the many exhibiting companies, many operate in the golfing industry, and it was possible to get a preview of products and systems that will make our golf courses increasingly technologically advanced in the future.

Golf, robot

One of the standout products among the various stands at the fair is automated robotic lawnmowers. These machines capable of cutting grass autonomously have existed for many years, but only recently have their performances reached a level where they can be used on a golf course.

In the maintenance of a golf course, grass cutting is one of the activities that requires the most time, and for this reason, a revolution in this sector could disrupt the work of greenkeepers, allowing them to dedicate more time and resources to other tasks.

Various brands and types of automated robotic lawnmowers are available on the market, and in general, the main advantages are: Labor Savings: By employing autonomous robots for cutting roughs, superintendents can reallocate human resources to other crucial tasks, improving the efficiency of course maintenance.

Ecology: These lawnmowers are electric, and unlike traditional cutting machines, they do not use diesel or hydraulic oil to operate. It is possible to install solar panels on charging stations to minimize environmental impact.

Consistent Performance: Robots do not tire or get distracted, offering consistent and programmable cutting results in advance regardless of weather conditions or time of day. However, this technology is still in development, and although it has already been integrated into many golf courses around the world, including Italy, there are still various disadvantages: Cutting Quality: These machines do not have the cutting quality of a normal cylinder mower, mainly because they have a reduced weight and use a system of rotating blades.

This currently makes them suitable only for cutting roughs and semi-roughs, although experiments are underway for fairway cutting. Initial Investment: Purchasing a sufficient number of robotic lawnmowers entails a significant initial investment, making the economic benefits amortizable over a long period.

Limited Adaptability: Although skilled at cutting open areas, robots may encounter difficulties in narrow or irregular terrain, still requiring manual intervention in some sections of the course. Like all developing technologies, many of the remaining issues will be resolved over time and experience.

However, the fact that all the major brands in the industry are investing heavily in this technology is a clear indication that in the future, it will be normal to see these robotic greenkeepers buzzing on our fairways.