Trundling into summer (if you count torrential rain, flooding and all-out gloom as summer) you might be considering getting out the lawn mower to tart up the garden in time for ‘meat-charring’ season.
If you’d rather avoid trying to manoeuvre your current mower into tackling a troublesome slope or gradient, then sit back in a deckchair and fire up the Summit Mowers TRX-44-PRO – a remote control mower, designed to tackle extreme 50° gradients.
Its use is primarily for commercial firms sprucing up road embankments, parks, and industrial facilities where sending in a man and machine produces risk and extra costs.
Its designer, John Wright, came up with the idea back in the 90s, although his first prototype – a Power Wheels Barbie jeep, a push mower and a remote control car – didn’t get him far. Returning to the project in 2008, with online learning helping steer a path, a four year R&D phase paid off and Summit Mowers was founded.
Fat rubber tracks, a low centre of gravity, and a top speed of 6mph mean that the mower is able to cut from ‘side to side’ to prevent erosion on the bank sides (wheeled mowers can only go up and down), while remaining simple enough for the user to service and maintain.
On his shoestring budget Wright used SketchUp to design all the parts, with the majority built from metal and laser cut, while other components were 3D printed using Materialise’s iMaterialise online service bureau.
Using servos to operate rocker switches that energise relays for the mower’s electrical system, the components are mounted in a precise 3D printed bracket to allow the servo arms have to be positioned perfectly.
“Our electronics have to be able to withstand dust, vibration and water or possible gas/oil spills,” said Wright. “Fragile circuit boards and 25HP remote control mowers is not a safe idea!
“The days of making the brackets by hand and using shims to line up the components is long gone thanks to iMaterialise,” said Wright.
Having sold 30 of the TRX-44-PRO mowers already in 2016, the evolution of the product is still continuing at a pace, with Summit Mowers looking to 3D print custom parts for the design in metal in the future.