Robotic mower: Danger for hedgehogs and other gardeners?


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Mowing robots are whisper-quiet and do their work completely autonomously. However, they also have a catch: the manufacturers point out in their operating instructions that the devices should not be left unattended in the presence of children or pets - which is why many garden owners postpone the operating hours to the evening and night hours. Unfortunately, fatal clashes with the local garden fauna occur, especially in the dark, as the Bavarian "Landesbund für Vogelschutz" (LBV) in the context of the project "Hedgehogs in Bavaria" found. "Since hedgehogs do not run away when they are in danger, they are particularly vulnerable to robotic lawnmowers," explains project manager Martina Gehret, adding that the number of injured barbed animals released for treatment at the various hedgehog stations in the country has risen in recent years. This leads the expert back to the increasing popularity of robotic lawnmowers, but also other small animals such as stalking or amphibians are threatened by the automatic lawnmowers and the supply of food in the garden for insects all other animals in the food chain scarce, as the white clover and other wild herbs on robot-mown lawns barely flowered.

The press spokesman of a large manufacturer of robotic lawnmowers said on request of MEIN that the company an intact garden fauna is very important and that you take the advice of the LBV seriously. Although their own devices were among the safest, as confirmed by several independent tests, and have been previously reported by dealers or customers notifications of accidents with hedgehogs. In principle, this can not be ruled out, and in this area there is certainly further potential for optimization. Therefore, they will enter into dialogue with the LBV and seek solutions to further improve the safety of the equipment.

No binding safety standard

A fundamental problem is that so far there is no binding standard for robotic lawnmowers, which prescribes safety-relevant design details - for example, the storage and design of the knife and their distance from the edge of the mower deck. Although there is a draft standard, this has not yet been adopted. For this reason, it is up to the manufacturers to minimize the risk of injury to humans and animals - which naturally leads to different results without binding specifications. The Stiftung Warentest published a large robotic lawnmower test in May 2014 and found safety deficiencies in most devices. The best performers were Bosch, Gardena and Honda. However, the development stages in the still relatively young product segment are still high - also in terms of safety. All current models of well-known manufacturers now have an emergency shutdown when the mower deck is raised, and also the shock sensors react more sensitively to obstacles in the lawn.

In the end, every robotic lawnmower owner has something to do in his own garden to protect the hedgehogs. Our recommendation: Limit the operating times of your robotic lawnmower to the necessary minimum and refrain from letting it run at night. A good compromise is, for example, the operation in the morning when the children are at school or in the early evening, when it is still bright outside.

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