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Monday - April 10, 2023

High Performance BLDC Motors for Robotic Lawn Equipment

As the weather gets warmer, gardeners are celebrating the return of the spring growing season. Flowers are blooming, birds are more active, and grass is turning green. As we emerge from our winter hibernation, many of us realize that our lawns are in need of some TLC. From mowing to watering and seeding, these yard maintenance chores can be labor intensive and time consuming. Thankfully automated solutions are starting to gain traction as they become more accessible and affordable.

Many of us already have a robotic vacuum or mop within our homes to accomplish the day-to-day cleaning tasks of a busy household. This allows active families to stay on top of chores while juggling demanding work, school, or travel schedules. Robotic cleaner solutions have greatly improved over the last 5 years with enhanced mapping technology, more precise control, and even dual-use devices (vacuum and mopping).

How Do Robotic Lawn Mowers Work?

These improvements helped outdoor applications become more advanced as well. When robotic lawn mowers were first introduced, they typically required the user to bury a boundary wire in order to define the mowing area. This greatly hindered adoption as the costs significantly outweighed the benefits, especially for small yards. With the improved mapping technology, it is now possible for users to precisely define mowing boundaries without a buried wire.

The other advantage of robotic mowers is they are battery operated. Battery-powered lawn equipment has recently experienced substantial growth as batteries get smaller and lighter. Another possible explanation for this trend is that women are taking a more active role in yard maintenance, and battery-powered equipment is much easier to operate. Electrified lawn equipment is here to stay – and the next revolution will be centered around intelligent, automated equipment.

Multi-use Automated Lawn & Garden Equipment

At CES 2023, companies were showcasing new solutions for automated lawn maintenance such as robotic mowers, leaf blowers, snow blowers and fertilizer/seed spreaders. Some of the devices had a modular design that supported multiple functions within a single unit. Similar to vacuum-mop combo units, this feature may help increase adoption as users aren’t required to purchase an entirely new system for each separate task.

Designing Robotic Lawn Mowers

Engineers are responsible for optimizing the performance of automated lawn equipment while balancing cost, power consumption, and weather resistance requirements.

High efficiency Brushless DC motors deliver high-speed rotation and offer extended battery life over DC brush motors. MinebeaMitsumi offers fractional horsepower motors for low voltage applications. Robotic lawn mowers are also self-propelled, and they require motors to drive the unit forward. These motors operate at lower speeds but require higher torque in order to power through thick grass. Gearboxes can be integrated into BLDC motors for increased torque at low speeds.

In addition to motors, fans are needed to keep electronics cool to prevent damage from overheating. These mechanical components must be able to withstand exposure to moisture and dust as this equipment is used outdoors. A wide operating temperature range is essential for multi-use equipment such as automated snow and leaf removal. Besides that, when it comes to grass bag monitoring, our grass bag fill sensor is an ideal MEMS gauge pressure sensor for this application.

How can NMBTC Help?

We offer high efficiency BLDC motors that can be customized to suit your performance requirements with gearboxes, modified shafts, encoders and more. Our resin potting technology protects driver electronics from ingress of water and dust supporting reliable operation even in harsh environments. The MinebeaMitsumi Technology Center in Germany recently developed a BLDC Wheel Hub Motor with an integrated wheel, precision planetary gear, high-performance electric motor, brake and electronics. This intelligent drive system delivers a true plug-and-play solution for design engineers.

Fernando Palarca Fernando Palarca
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