Army uses electric lawn mowers to save the planet


JANUARY 6, 2022 – The United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at military bases by using self-contained electric lawn mowers.

Weldon Hill, Assistant Chief of Staff, Engineer, is leading the SMDC Self-Contained Electric Lawn Mower Pilot Study in Support of Army Goals to Reduce Gas Pollution by 50% at greenhouse effect by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“Federal agencies have been tasked with developing action plans and initiatives that address adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change,” Hill said. “The first focus of the Army’s strategy is to improve the force’s energy capacity and energy efficiency by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “

In the spring and fall of 2022, the 550 stand-alone electric lawn mowers of Husqvarna’s exact positioning operating system will be used at the command headquarters in Redstone Arsenal as part of the study.

“Self-contained electric mowers are programmed using GPS technology and tied to specific work areas,” Hill said. “Lawn mowers work the same as a stand-alone indoor vacuum, like a Roomba, and move at low speeds. Built-in safety features allow mowers to change direction when they encounter an object or a limit, and the blades automatically stop if the mower is lifted or turned over.

These mowers use satellite systems and a nearby reference station to automate their operations, eliminating the need for perimeter cables, and are virtually silent, able to run 24/7, pose no risk of indirect spill pollution and do not produce any direct GHG emissions or particulate pollution. They are equipped with a tracking system, and their operation will be managed remotely by USASMDC personnel.

Hill said that while lawns, grasses and green spaces don’t get the same attention as traditional transportation, the landscaping industry is a big contributor to climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans use 800 million gallons of gasoline for lawn care every year and also spill an additional 17 million gallons.

Small engines used in landscaping equipment produce twice as much pollution as personal vehicles: an hour of using a gasoline lawn mower is the equivalent of driving a Toyota Camry from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, while One hour of using a gasoline leaf blower is equivalent to driving the same Camry 1,100 miles.

The initiative enables an alternative approach to landscape management that uses cleaner and more reliable energy sources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. One of the mowers in the pilot study will run on solar energy, which will allow SMDC to increase its operational electrification using renewable energies.

Hill said the study will bring measurable public and environmental benefits to military personnel and contribute to SMDC’s success in achieving climate change mitigation goals. The use of autonomous electric mowers for landscape management promotes environmental stewardship with innovative technology and is one of the many initiatives that DCSENG proposes to integrate into SMDC’s operations to combat climate change.

“Workforce health benefits would be expected from the reduction of several types of local pollution such as noise, particulates and spills, and would help create a productive workplace and life,” he said. Hill said.

According to Hill, the use of self-contained electric mowers will help the command reduce its reliance on controlled and limited resources, such as gasoline and diesel, without degrading the mission.

“The pilot study will analyze performance metrics to determine the feasibility of implementing stand-alone electric mowers as a climate change initiative at command locations around the world,” Hill said.

Jason Cutshaw story
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

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