This paper documents a case study of an automated mower to support sustainability at an airport. Mowing is an essential component of an airport’s Wildlife Hazard Management Plan (WHMP), which reduces the risk of birds and other wildlife to aircraft operations. Many airports have large areas of land (hundreds or even thousands of acres), which requires significant resources to manage and mow; experience at the Purdue Airport (KLAF) suggests that automated mowing may support economic and environmental aspects of sustainability. Automated mowing supports economic efficiency by reducing personnel requirements, although personnel are still needed for inspections, maintenance, and “mower rescue” if there is a malfunction (technical or field issue). Automated mowing supports environmental impacts by reducing local emissions since the mower is powered by electricity rather than gasoline; this benefit would be increased with the use of solar-powered mowers. Automated mowing may not be viable everywhere, and factors such as terrain, access to available power, acreage, and location on the airfield (including proximity to protected areas) must be carefully considered. Although automated mowing will not completely replace traditional mowing in the near future, autonomous mowers in remote areas may be an appropriate practice to support airport sustainability.
Sustainability; automation; automated vehicle; mowing; airport efficiency; airport operations; emissions
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