High-tech, ‘super hero’ drone gets to work on Auckland’s motorway berms.
It must be one of the best "big boys toys" going and its all-conquering abilities have led to it being named after a super hero.
Spider Mower has been unleashed on the berms of Auckland's motorway network. The high-tech drone now ensures grass is kept in check without cracking a sweat.
The bright-yellow land drone, owned by the New Zealand Transport Agency, is proving to be a cut above in grassed areas along the city's motorways, including in sloped sections leading down to the roadside.
Imported from the Czech Republic, the 335kg machine with a top speed of 8km/h has improved efficiency in maintaining roadside berms. In just five hours, it can mow what would take a human two days.
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The radio-controlled unit has also made the job safer for staff, who can keep further away from cars travelling at speeds of 100km/h - and sometimes faster.
"It has proved itself to be an invaluable and inventive tool in helping to maintain steep slopes which would otherwise be a tricky, time-consuming job with safety risks," said Steve Mutton, director of NZTA's Auckland Motorway Alliance.
"It is now operating between 25 and 30 hours a week and mows the grass on sections of the motorway which are uneven and difficult to access.
"The spider operates at angles of up to 40 degrees. This is too steep an angle for our regular ride-on operators to work safely.
"As well as keeping the motorways attractive places to drive on, maintaining grass reduces the risk of fire and the spread of rodents and other pests."
Spider Mower is being used in addition to weed eaters and ride-on mowers also used to maintain Auckland's motorway network, including managing the 173 ha of grass alongside the region's motorways.
But for home owners thinking their own Spider Mower might save them time over the weekend, the system doesn't come cheap. Each unit costs about $50,000.