A robotic, remote control grass cutter, trimming local road side ditches, may be the strange result of a tragic death in North Carolina.
In May, 63-year-old Dana Bruce, a National Park Service maintenance worker, died while cutting grass along the Blue Ridge Parkway when his riding mower fell more than 140 feet down a boulder-strewn embankment.
The National Park Service halted mowing at its 397 parks including the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area for a time this summer and assessed the safety of mowing operations, park Spokeswoman Kathleen Sandt said.
As a result of that assessment, Bill Tagye NPS roads and facilities manager has made a request for funding, and hopes to get, a remote control grass and brush cutter.
The park has many slopes, but the most treacherous are around of the dams.
The DWGNRA has more dams, 113, than any other national park in the nation, Tagye said. The local dams make up 25 percent of all the dams owned by the National Park Service—enough steep slopes to justify a robotic mower.
The mower could also be used along the road side where Tagye figures it “might freak some people out,” to drive past and see a mower with no driver.
An operator would be nearby, with a remote control to keep the clipper in line.
“We’re always looking for ways to increase safety, Tagye said.
It got me thinking about other ways the park could increase safety through robotics.
Remote control wildlife would make the roads safer. A robot rafter of turkeys would smartly stand at the side of the road instead of marching in front of a speeding car.
The Appalachian Trail would be a breeze with a few escalators to bypass the really rocky sections.
And a machine that can pitch a tent for campers who arrive after dark, might save a few relationships.