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Creating a more sustainable environment with the MowHawk Smart Mower Vision System

How Datacadabra is innovating roadside management with smart cameras

When you think of sustainability, roadside mowers may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But in the roadside spaces that most people simply drive by, the team at Datacadabra saw an opportunity to contribute to a more sustainable planet. What if invasive plants could be identified and destroyed before they were able to thrive and spread? What if roadside mowers were able to only cut grass and leave animal and insect habitats, saplings, flowers and even litter alone? What if it were possible to ensure that the mowed trimmings being recycled were 100% grass able to be turned into animal feed or healthy mulch, rather than a mix of invasive plants, litter and grass? Enter the MowHawk.

Datacadabra MowHawk

The MowHawk Smart Mower Vision System.

It's What's Inside That Counts

“The MowHawk is a Smart Camera System on the cutter bar of a roadside mower that helps to provide more biodiversity, circular use of grass clippings and insights during the entire roadside mowing process. We accurately track the mower’s location and detect whether the mowed grass contains invasive plant species and/or litter.”

- Vincent Nibbelke, lead computer vision engineer at Datacadabra

The main goal of the MowHawk solution is to improve roadside mowing and facilitate disposal of the grass clippings to reduce processing costs and create a more sustainable environment. The absence of litter in mowed grass saves an expensive cleaning step after mowing, and makes clippings a high quality resource rather than an expensive burden. In addition, the detection of invasive plant species is the first step to stop the spread.

Roadside mowing is essential for safety, operational, aesthetic and environmental purposes. But, without careful attention and monitoring, roadside mowing can play a significant role in the destruction of animal habitats and the spread of invasive plants. For example, when an invasive species has been cut, careful attention needs to be taken to destroy it in the appropriate manner. The MowHawk ensures that these invasive plants don’t end up in the compost heap where they can spread, but rather processed separately.

Datacadabra MowHawk

Vincent Nibbelke, Lead computer vision engineer and Renee Roeleveld, business development.

Rugged performance at the edge

In order to power the smart vision camera system of the MowHawk, Datacadabra was in need of a computer system that was both customizable and extremely rugged. PoE (power over ethernet) ports and model processing chips with a low power consumption were needed for an optimal installation of the MowHawk. Since the MowHawk would be mounted on roadside lawn mowers and would be exposed to impact forces and vibration, having a rugged system was an absolute must. This resulted in the use of the Karbon Series.

The Karbon 700-SE is the heart of the MowHawk. It collects all the tracking and vision module data, generates a display output for the driver to see the mowing progress and processes video input in real time. It also ensures that relevant data is communicated to the camera orientation module. After that, all relevant extracted information is communicated to the cloud using 4G.

“Because of the robustness of the OnLogic system, we have been able to successfully develop and deploy our prototype within the last year and were able to market our system, starting deployment from this year onwards. The MowHawk, our intelligent mowing system, is already used by the Dutch regional government to mow roadsides. The solution helps them to achieve their nature-inclusive goals. The collaboration with OnLogic has felt very natural, almost as if they are part of our team at times. Always asking the right questions to find out what is exactly needed, with a mindset of let's get it right the first time round.”

- Vincent Nibbelke, lead computer vision engineer at Datacadabra
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