Scientists at Oxford University have warned that hedgehogs are being injured from encounters with robot lawnmowers due to few safety features to protect wildlife.
New research work published today (16 January 2024) found that some models of robotic lawnmowers would run straight over a hedgehog with the blades still running causing serious injury. In some other cases the mower would nudge the animal and change direction, but this did not consistently happen.
What do you think about robot mowers and the danger they pose to wildlife. Have you seen injured hedgehogs in your garden? >>>
Hedgehogs face a number of threats in the UK including loss of habitat, road traffic and predation by predators, such as badgers.
Analysis from The State of Britain’s Hedgehogs 2022, an annual report released by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, suggests that countryside populations of the small mammal have declined by an average of 8.3% a year for the past two decades.
Researchers hope that a certification scheme can be developed to allow consumers to choose ‘hedgehog-friendly’ mowers to help protect these lovable mammals.
Ken Crowther’s view
World Radio Gardening’s Ken Crowther believes robotic mowers already have significant built-in safeguards for wildlife, such as senors that prompt a change of direction when the machine is faced with an object.
Ken says: “This research focuses on the issue of the average gardener and their tools as the cause for declining hedgehog numbers. The reality is road traffic is a greater factor in the mammals decline and we need to do more to prevent them wandering onto roads. Research work on the first COVID-19 lockdown period showed 50% lower roadkill levels due to fewer people in cars being on roads. We must be careful not to demonise gardeners for wanting to use new technology in their gardens, but we also should be mindful to protect our wildlife.”
In 2020, the UK Government’s Department for Transport introduced a small mammal road traffic warning sign for use in hedgehog hotspots. The sign is a red warning triangle featuring a hedgehog and is designed to warn drivers of small mammals being present on the carriageway.
STIGA’s main feature for protecting nocturnal wildlife is to design in efficiency and make sure that grass cutting is managed within daylight hours. This ensures the safety of nocturnal animals, such as hedgehogs, as they can safely occupy the garden overnight.
Additionally, cutting-edge predictive technology from STIGA’s green-fingered engineers knows where and when to cut, making STIGA’s Autonomous Robot Mowers the first to nurture beautiful, naturally healthy lawns all by itself
Fabio Banin is an Agronomist & Robot Expert at STIGA and he says: “All STIGA, breakthrough products are developed with the highest industry standards, innovating and tailoring effective, quality solutions for the gardening industry. We think of ourselves as “green-fingered engineers” and as such, we ensure our products are developed to protect the entire garden ecosystem, whether they be humans, pets or wild animals. Specifically, our new Autonomous Robot Mower goes beyond new technologies such as barrier recognition systems, lawn mapping, and lawn memory that have emerged in the global robot mower market.”
“Our newest product innovation features more than 30 patented product design elements and technologies which enable an unmatched level of functionality. For example, the STIGA Autonomous Robot is the very first mower of its kind to combine RTK GPS (real time kinematics) and patented predictive Active Guidance System (AGS) to plan the most effective mowing route each day, faultlessly. This includes sensor safety mechanisms specifically designed to ensure the machine stops as soon as it detects an obstacle not previously mapped out in the perimeter. We even thought of protecting nocturnal life in gardens by designing our robots to manage cutting sessions in daylight hours, so fauna such as hedgehogs can roam about gardens overnight undisturbed,” said Fabio
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