The exciting arrival of robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and a handful of automations are shaping the future of lawncare, gardening and even landscaping.
With its seasonal demands and hard labour, the commercial world of agriculture has been one of the first areas to benefit from, and revolutionise through, autonomous robotics. Yet, sophisticated gardening equipment including robots and drones, is not limited to commercial farming. Although human intervention will always be needed for inspiring landscaping designs, robotics and automatons can play a supporting role in the future of lawncare, whereby using technology as a way to enhance and improve existing manual practices.
Initial predictions by analysts have shown how robotics is a quickly taking over many of the traditional roles involved with landscaping. The introduction of robotic lawnmowers, for example, has rapidly changed how people maintain their lawns, both on commercial properties and residential ones.
With this advanced technical equipment, it has become possible to retain the artistic and original appeal of commercial landscaping, yet remove some of the physical and mental tax associated with it. Through combining robotics and AI into existing landscaping methods, automated gardening replaces the manual, and often inconvenient, ways of landscaping.
From software to drones, how exactly can robots help lawncare and landscaping?
For food, flora and fauna-based industries, we’re already seeing static robots perform labour intensive tasks such as cutting, de-leafing, trimming, and harvesting. Gardening warehouses and greenhouses across the world are already benefiting, too.
Robots can seed and also put plug plants directly from tray to soil, which increases productivity and efficiency for growers on a greater scale.
Machines can scan for disease and pests, giving vital insight for breeders and growers alike. Artificial intelligence examines root systems via inbuilt cameras. Findings are collected and analysed, in turn helping horticulturists discover more about their plant life. Through machine-assisted learnings, new generations of stronger and healthier plants have been able to develop.
Computers allow better communication too in the shape of software. For example, a landscaper can more accurately track data about particular plants for production and inform the supply chain.
The confidence in this technology is key to the successful future of soft landscaping, as Grounds Care Group Founder and CEO Adam Brindle observes:
“As a national grounds maintenance company, we’re always looking for ways we can serve our customers better, whilst making choices that benefit both our business and our staff. Technology is advancing way beyond a simple chain saw – right now we are invested in finding the best cutting edge landscape solutions that help us evolve”.
AI and robotics can do more than play a supporting role in helping to inform key decisions about a landscape. As the practice becomes more eco-efficient, AI can help landscaping adapt its operation for sustainability.
For example, preservation of both wildlife and a regions biodiversity can be enhanced via technology, by learning how to reduce the use of harmful pesticides, as well as improving soil health. Efforts in boosting the natural environment are recognised through the likes of ecological mitigation, which can support sustainability goals for a commercial property. Whether a school, businesses, hospital, or housing estate, the positive benefits of an enhanced natural biodiversity in the landscape are seemingly endless.
As the global population grows and there is greater demand on food, technology has become more important than ever as part of the solution. Agriculture is one of the key areas where automations in gardening has developed, and this will likely influence the landscaping industry.
Farm robots are a part of a project called Farmbots – an agricultural farming scheme that combines robotic farming machinery, software and documentation. The scheme, started in 2011, has the goal to create source precision technology that allows larger operations to grow food productively and efficiently. For farmers, the ability to automatically monitor the presence of pests and plant disease is a game-changing development that helps limit crop failure.
Using real-time data means that every change in temperature, humidity and sunset is recorded, lending insight to horticulturists and farmers alike. This information can be shared not only nationally, but globally. This allows the entire agricultural, farming, gardening, food production and soft landscaping industry to better understand and prepare for connected occurrences around the world.
By communicating fully, and within a connected community of sorts, we can also avoid pests and disease being transported from country to country via the shipment of non-native foreign plants and trees.
Find out more about the importance of planting native trees as a way of supporting the environment.
A futuristic research project from Europe called Flora Robotica is investigating how machines and plants can relate to one another.
The premise of the project is to try to blend the ‘skillsets’ of the plants and robotics together. The natural ability of plants to adapt to things like light and water can be combined with the speed and intellect of robots.
This unique relationship can be used to influence the plants in the way they grow and repair themselves. Plants act as a biosensor, giving feedback to their robotic components, not only supporting and boosting their own natural cycle, but also as a scaffold to help them regulate.
The result is the manipulation of the plants to grow into shapes and forms that we manoeuvre via our programming of the robots. Rather than assembling materials into an end product or object, future architecture would centre on horticultural principles and how plants could grow.
Essentially, we could use plants in a whole new way, occupying and regenerating multiple urban spaces and removing pollution. Green spaces could bring back harmony between human occupied areas and the natural world.
Technology tends to development from larger agriculture or horticulture operations. When it comes to everyday lawncare, robots have started to replace mowers.
Robotic lawnmowers have been in development for over 20 years and are continuing to grow in popularity with 17% of the global market. Over time, prices have gone down and although still far more expensive than traditional mowers, robotic mowers are more economical when compared with paying a gardener. Popular models are always evolving and inspiring the ways we care for our lawns at home.
Fully automated, a robot lawnmower removes the need manual labour. They’re also considerably safer than the conventional lawnmower, as much as they can offer the homeowner more convenience and efficiency.
Yet, there are complications with lawncare that must be considered.
Lawncare requires a slightly different approach to maintain each and every lawn. Soil type, breed of grass, age, weed content and climate are all factors that a professional landscaper or gardener would consider. Robot mowers cannot, however, sense where the ground is uneven, nor can they detect where grass might be denser. Robots can’t level, or edge properties either.
The human element of landscaping – from creative design to caring for detail – remains irreplaceable. Yet, there’s still potential for gardening robotics to learn and evolve into these areas.
A newly designed, intelligent landscaping tool known as the ‘Yardroid’ is part of new generation in gardening and grounds maintenance.
The Yardroid is much more than a multipurpose garden robot designed to labour over a landscape, but a symbol of change that will soon sweep over the market.
The Yardroid may only be the beginning of a fully automated robotic gardening device, but it reflects an appetite for change that will use technology to replace many of the traditional, laborious roles of physical landscaping.
Technology is not only replacing the input of manual labour in gardening, but how it’s operated too. Using cloud software, technology is able to support gardening projects by handling administrative tasks. Everything from scheduling to production, lawncare software is another angle where technology is capable of inspiring landscaping and helping it involve into a more efficient process.
Forecasting the future of landscaping, AI and other robotics will play a key role in solving existing problems, such as reinforcing sustainability efforts.
Here at Grounds Care Group, we embrace technology and use state of the art live reporting systems throughout our business. We know that AI holds many of the answers we need to inspire sustainable change and to function in a better, more balanced way with nature.
With experience and confidence in technology, our landscaping services covers all aspects of estate management, from lawn care to leaf clearance. Get in touch today to discuss your project with the experts.