Leading the parade of popular new products at farm shows this fall is Kubota's first-ever radio controlled tractor-mower. Resembling a space-age robot, it boasts unmatched safety and convenience.
Instead of sitting on the machine when mowing dangerously steep slopes or ditch banks, for example, you simply get off and, using a hand-held control panel, operate the "driverless" mower by remote control. Or, for the ultimate in mowing convenience, you can sit in the shade and mow your entire lawn. Twenty of the first units to roll off the assembly line at Kubota's factory in Japan have been shipped to distributors throughout the United States.
At present, the driverless tractor-mower isn't so automatic that you can program it to turn corners and mow your entire lawn all by itself. But this ultimate degree of driverless mowing is "just around the corner", predicts Dan Kilgas, Kubota service representative.
The hand-held radio control panel allows you to operate the tractor-mower "driverless" for a distance up to 300 ft. "The only things you can't do by remote control are start the engine, and adjust the throttle," explains Kilgas. When the tractor-mower gets beyond 300 ft. of the hand-held transmitter, it automatically stops, the engine shuts off and a light on top the hood starts flashing to let you know that the rig went out of range.
Travel speed, forward or reverse, is infinitely variable from 0 to 12 mph. The operator (manually or by remote control) has a choice of three steering models: 1. Conventional steering of the two front wheels; 2. Conventional 4-wheel steering; or 3. Crab steering. "If a slope is too steep for the mower to negotiate going straight up, the operator can switch to crab steering and zig-zag to the top," explains Kilgas. "Switching from one steering mode to another, or changing from forward to reverse, is as fast and simple as moving the control switch."
For conventional manual operation, a collapsible two-handled steering wheel is pulled out from a "hideaway" compartment built into the dash.
Power is provided by a 3-cyl., water cooled 20-hp diesel engine. It drives a hydrostatic pump which, in turn, powers a hydrostatic drive transmission.
The plug-proof radiator's fan operates 2 min. in one direction, then automatically reverses for 30 sec. to keep grass clippings and other debris from building up on the radiator screen.
The 3-blade mower takes a 60-in. swath. Its center section is shaft driven off a mid-mounted pto. Belts operate the two cutting blades on each side.
"We're getting a lot of interest from highway department officials who feel our new remote-controlled tractor-mower has excellent application for safer mowing of steep ditches and other hazard areas," notes Kilgas. "Because it's driverless, it can go into areas the driver wants to stay out of because of bees, unsafe animals, chemical residues or other hazards."