Robot mower based on ardurover

Hi all,

Im considering building a robotic lawnmower. I was going to buy one, but Im put off by the need of a perimeter wire, and so Id like to experiment with RTK GPS or something like the Marvelmind beacons to achieve accuracy that doesnt require perimeter wires… Having some experience with arduplane/pixhawk on RC drones some years ago, Ardurover seemed to be an obvious base; I also figured I couldnt possibly be the first to do so, but I havent found much.

Ardurover based robot mower projects I have found seem to be limited to huge “farm scale” mowers, not the mostly 3d printed thing Im looking for for in my backyard.

I found 2 promising opensource robomower projects (Rep_AL and Ardumower), but AFAICT, they do not use ardupilot, but custom software running on generic arduino/raspberry and collections of sensors. This seems silly to me. Ardupilot has so much of the things a robot mower needs, like cheap(ish) integrated hardware, telemetry, support for advanced sensor fusion, RTK gps, as well as other non GPS navigation that may work on lawnmower, ground control software etc etc etc.

Thing is, Im not a developer. So if ardurover + one of the mission planners does 95% of what I need it to do, Im still going to be 100% stuck :).

So first question; did I miss a project, is someone or some group already doing this and I just didnt find it?

Assuming not, a few things that worry me:

  1. collision detection/avoidance. I know we can connect various sensors to make a rover stop for obstacles, but can we let it continue mowing my lawn after a collision and drive around obstacles?

  2. lawn/mission planning. In mission planner I can (ab)use the survey grid tool to make something that may be useful, although the minimum distance may be a problem for a small mower. Is there something more suitable to generate a mission for lawn mowing? In a perfect world, I would just drive around the perimeter once using a remote control, then use that as perimeter in the planning software, add no go zones and let it create a plan.

  3. controlling the mower motor. This is pretty essential :). How would you control the mower motor, so it doesnt spin unless its doing its mission, and it stops when the rover tilts more than x degree, or when going back to the dock, …

  4. docking/charging. This needs some thought, I dont know really what this would require or if it could be done. Like a RTL but always going to a way point first (to align the rover with the dock).

I also have no idea yet what motors would be usable for this, either for the wheels (presumably DC motors with encoders?) or the cutting disc (no clue what speeds or power is required here, but I can google that Im sure). But if anyone has suggestions, Im all ears.

You can choose from:
or ROS

There are a lot of posts on this forum discussing ArduPilot-based lawnmowers. Did you searched the forum?

Yeah I did search it. And all I found where ones like this:

What Im looking for is more like this:

Electric, small enough to bump in to things, risk getting stuck, small enough that route planning becomes a very different problem etc etc.

Follow the link I posted… It should help

Sigh… it does not. Your link is a search result. Maybe yours are different, but let me list the ones I get.

  1. huge gasoline sit mower
  2. huge gasoline sit mower
  3. this very thread (!)
  4. huge gasoline sit mower
  5. little app to change CW/CCW mowplan which solves almost nothing for me.
  6. huge gasoline sit mower
  7. No help, someone with more or less same questions

Anyway, its clear to me no one is seriously working on a consumer scale electric lawn mowing robot based on ardupilot, and I dont have the skills to do so, so I ordered a commercial one and will be digging perimeter wires this week. best of of luck to anyone who kickstarts this.

I also want to use ardurover as a controller for my HoverMower project. I’ve been working on it for awhile. Mostly using ardumowers ideas. One thing I’m very pleased with is the use of a pair of hoverboard wheels. They are extremely strong and almost dead silent. Not to mention that they are very cheap on second hand market. Some guys hacked the driver board so the wheels can be controlled via RC, serial, potentiometers etc. Chek my blog.
(a hoverboard is not actually hovering, it’s just a name for a balancing board that became popular som years ago)

Awesome. Me too I was put off by the perimeter wire, especially as the garden isn’t finished yet and I will make changes , add shrubs, chicken coop (that probably moves) etc. I already have RTK-GPS gear and a pixhawk, so that’s an easy choice. Its also open source whereas this RepAl solution is totally closed source and not nearly as flexible as Ardupilot.
Instead of building (i thought of it… the most robust ones seemed the gas-powered ones with wheelchair motors), but then over here in Belgium there may not be many good value motors available. In the end I bought an old battery driven robot mower (the perimeter wire kind) that I intend to reconfigure. I just bought them over the weekend so still reading up. I did order sabertooth 2x12A motor driver for the wheels, they are 75W each at 24V so I hope 12A will suffice. For the blade motors I am not sure yet, they are 6A each so that’s a fair current. Some type of relay I guess but havent gotten there yet : need help on the circuit (or link to a board) that handles all the inductive shit that goes on when switching these motors on/off.
The Robomow came w a dead battery-pack so I order a bunch of 18650 cells and 2 of those 7x3 cell boxes with nickel from china, as well as a PCB for spot-welding and some pens. I guess I will need some sort of charging arrangement too, not sure yet how I will sort that out.
Keep me posted on your progress !