USE Network launch I UAV Works VALAQ l Cable harnesses l USVs insight l Xponential 2020 update l MARIN AUV l Suter Industries TOA 288 l Vitirover l AI systems l Vtrus ABI

76 W hile automated lawnmowing vehicles aimed at domestic consumers have become widely available over the past several years, countering the problems caused by the unchecked growth of grass and weeds in agricultural and industrial assets requires a solution capable of covering far wider areas without major investments of time and cost. Arnaud de la Fouchardiere, the CEO of Vitirover, and his CTO and associate Xavier David Beaulieu, lead a team of engineers who have been eyeing this requirement closely throughout the development of their eponymous UGV. “Xavier is the brother of a famous French winemaker, and he was shocked by the poor options available to vineyards and orchards for trimming unwanted plants, which can threaten crop growth as weeds ‘fight’ them for water, nutrients, nitrogen and direct sunlight for example,” the CEO explains. “Similarly, rail tracks, photovoltaic farms and other industrial installations can be rendered inefficient or unsafe if grass or other plants become overgrown in and around them. These asset holders and many more tend to pick from three areas in particular for managing overgrown plant life.” The oldest of these methods is to use horses for example to pull ploughs through the soil, but they could damage crops or cables unless they are intensively monitored by handlers. Horses are also slow and costly to keep, typically costing farmers around e 6000 per hectare each year. For closer control, diesel-powered tractors or mowers can be used instead, but they too represent a major investment and have high running costs. Their size also poses a risk of injuring people, they can compact agricultural soil, and it is physically impossible for them to circulate around industrial installations such as electrical substations or solar power farms. Keeping grass and weeds under control – a vital task in many commercial settings – inspired the development of this system. Rory Jackson reports A cut above June/July 2020 | Unmanned Systems Technology Centimetre-accurate RTK-GNSS is a critical safety requirement for Vitirovers trimming grass near high-speed railways