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The Trimbot is programmed to professionally prune, trim, and cut.

Grey nomads who only travel for part of the year are commonly faced with one niggling problem when they leave their ‘home base’ behind … who on Earth is going to look after the yard? Even the friendliest neighbour or most dutiful offspring can get a little weary of gardening tasks when the days away turn into weeks, and then the weeks turn into months.

Unbelievably, part-time grey nomads could soon be liberated from having to take the abandoned garden gamble.

A robot has been developed that can self-navigate around the yard and automatically carry out tasks such as pruning roses and trimming bushes. Oh, and it cuts the lawn, too!

The Trimbot uses cameras and 3D mapping technology to find its way around and perform precise tasks with cutting tools. The battery-powered device is pre-programmed with a rough outline of a yard to aid navigation.

Data captured by the robot’s 3D cameras enable it to perform specific tasks. Scientists fitted five pairs of cameras and a flexible robotic arm to an automated lawnmower made by electronics company Bosch.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, and a number of other academic institutions and private companies, created algorithms that enable the robot to compare overgrown bushes with ideal final shapes as it trims.

The results are eye-popping. Using a different cutting tool, Trimbot can prune roses by pinpointing the exact part of each plant’s stem that needs a cut. Technologies developed during the project could soon be incorporated into Bosch’s range of automated lawnmowers … and Bob’s your uncle, that’s one less thing to worry about while you’re sitting under the awning in the Tropics.

As well as helping absentee grey nomads, it is envisioned that Trimbots could be used to maintain communal green spaces, support farmers, and help people with mobility issues tend their gardens.

“Getting the robot to work reliably in a real garden was a major feat of engineering,” said the University of Edinburgh’s Professor Bob Fisher. “The eight partner teams developed new robotics and 3D computer vision technology to enable it to work outdoors in changing lighting and environmental conditions.”

  • Do you worry about your yard getting out of control when you’re on the road? Email us here to share your experiences.

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