Arty gets an evaluation
ARTY, the nickname for the city’s autonomous mower/snowbot, was the subject of an update to the Infrastructure and Economic Development Committee last Tuesday.
The robotic helper was purchased by the city in December 2019 and has been put through its paces over the past year, both clearing snow from paths and cutting grass this past summer.
Rory Tarant, City of Grande Prairie Senior Executive Advisor, said they were pretty happy with ARTY’s performance, especially during the summer months.
“We definitely found it had uses that were much better than others,” he added. “The summer operations, we were very pleased with. (With) the mowing of big open areas, it was able to do that without any human intervention. It was able to mow at 1 1/2 acres per hour, very few complications with that. That was one of the biggest successes with that.”
The committee heard ARTY’s evaluation of its snow-removal capabilities were used on the 3-kilometre loop of pathway from the Ernie Radbourne Pavilion around the reservoir.
ARTY handled the winter task fairly well, although there were a few programming issues that may have to be addressed with the manufacturer.
“It is a new piece of technology that we were going to try on a variety of areas,” Tarant said. “The thing that is challenging about winter operations is that you have so many more variables than you do in the summer (like) snow depth and how the different types of snow and ice affect the trails. It requires significantly more programming than the summer operations. There still may be some niche for it. The other people we have talked to that have used the machine, use it more on flatter surfaces.”
This winter, ARTY has transferred to the Community Knowledge Campus, where it will be working on flatter surfaces like sidewalks, parking spaces, the artificial turf field and the skating oval.
The machine moved over to its new winter location recently and is still waiting to be put through its paces.
“One of the advantages is that they are continually sending us new parts that are being upgraded and improved” Tarant said. “It is ready to go now and we are just waiting for the snow to drop.”
The CKC is a familiar location for ARTY as it was run through its paces, cutting grass along boulevards, open areas and sports fields.
Committee was told it was on the sports fields where the piece of equipment shone, this coming summer it will be put through its paces cutting the playing areas of irrigated sports fields like Legion Field.
ARTY can have its deck set to the minimum height of two inches and will try and do a weekly cut on each field it is assigned to. The new summer test will also provide a higher level of service to user groups, as currently the fields are cut every second week and the mower decks are set at three weeks.
The machine’s operator can do all the other work around the fields like weed whacking while the unit is mowing and if the robotic mower gets behind a mower operator can always provide assistance by cutting grass on the non-playing surfaces until ARTY gets caught up.
ARTY’s evaluation was just given to the committee for information as more evaluation — includ-ing the cost-recovery of a machine like this–will be and how it stands up to being transported between sites Tarant said.
“That is one of the things we are going to look at this summer, is to try and operationalize it the best we can. So we have come up with a five-day rotation that would move it to the different sites.”