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Autonomous mowers maintaining Purple Sage Golf Course

The first fleet of cutting-edge technology arrived in Caldwell a few weeks ago.

CALDWELL, Idaho — In Caldwell, autonomous mowers are the future.

“You don’t have to worry about 'are they going to show up to work today?' Cuz’ they’re there, they’re doing it,” Caldwell Mayor Jarom Wagoner said.

The city first considered buying autonomous mowers about four months ago. Now, they are finally here. At Purple Sage Golf Course, a small fleet cuts about 30 acres a week. This is the first autonomous mower fleet in the state.

There were some skeptics about using autonomous mowers at first. The reason why, concerns about taking jobs away. However, Golf Superintendent Ken Wheeler said these mowers are not replacing people, merely filling vacancies.

Autonomous mowers are also eco-conscious, Wagoner said. These machines help reduce water usage, which is helpful considering Idaho is in a drought.

The autonomous mowers are only cut out to navigate rough terrain as of right now. This is why they primarily cut grass in big, open areas. However, he said they will start to cut closer to the fairways as technology evolves.

The city paid around $150,000 for six autonomous mowers. But he said the cost is worth it considering professional mowers cost about $90,000 each.

Wagoner said they hope to purchase more fleets in the future and use them at various parks around the city. Right now, three mowers are stationed at the golf course. The other three are at Wolfe Field.

“We can have people doing what they’re supposed to be doing – really maintaining and taking care of those certain special areas and let the autonomous mowers just go out and do the mowing and let the people that are trained to do the other stuff do what they’re doing instead of sitting on a mower mowing grass,” Wagoner said.

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