Robotic mowers trim embankments on Illinois Tollway

| August 14, 2013

Illinois Tollway worker Paul Borkowski operates a Siper ILD02 mower on an embankment in Rosemont. (Photo: Armando L. Sanchez, Chicago Tribune)

Illinois Tollway worker Paul Borkowski operates a Spider ILDO2 mower on an embankment in Rosemont. (Photo: Armando L. Sanchez, Chicago Tribune)

Illinois Tollway workers have begun using a robotic mower to trim embankments along the Illinois Tollway, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

The $42,000 Spider ILDO2 — the same mower the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) began using earlier this summer — is capable of climbing 40-degree slopes and ditches, preventing injuries that could occur if a riding mower tipped while attempting the same task.

An operator drives the machine using a remote control panel that hangs around his or her neck. The operator can control the mower from up to a football field’s length away.

The mower, which Tollway crews have nicknamed Spider-Man, features four blades and four wheels that rotate 360 degrees. The machine operates at two speeds, “turtle” and “jack rabbit,” and cuts 50 inches with each swipe.

The tollway purchased the mowers in 2012 and is now getting its first full season of use from them.

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) officials said the agency does not currently use any remote-controlled mowers, though IDOT has not ruled out eventual use of the robotic mowers.

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