Robotic Ball Collector retrieves golf balls safely from driving ranges

Mike Birdin Parks

Robotic Ball Collector retrieves golf balls safely from driving ranges

A new robotic golf ball collector from Turfmech Machinery is set to make the retrieval of golf balls from practice ranges a far safer and less labour intensive job.

Known as Ballpicker, the high-tech machine uses the same advanced operating systems as the Bigmow large area robotic mower, launched by Turfmech onto the consumer and professional grass-cutting markets during the summer.

Fully automatic in operation - with manual override available as and when required - Ballpicker works completely randomly within a pre-defined area bounded by a buried low voltage cable across which the machine will not pass. As the battery-powered Ballpicker moves across the ground, it sweeps up all golf balls lying in its path and drops them into an on-board container with a capacity of more than 600 balls.

When the basket is full - or earlier, depending on machine programming and battery condition - Ballpicker returns automatically to the golf ball release station which doubles also as the recharging point for the machine's batteries. Once docked at its release station, Ballpicker offloads its basket of golf balls and readies itself to set off across the range on a new collection schedule. The release station can be linked to virtually all golf ball conveyors.

Equipped with sonar, touch sensitive bumpers and fail-safe emergency stop controls, Ballpicker has been designed to be virtually silent and totally safe in operation while also being sufficiently rugged to withstand the impact of golf balls. These three features combine to allow the machine to carry on working while golfers practice, reducing the requirement to have a large number of golf balls in reserve or to employ a specially-guarded vehicle or even to close the range while balls are retrieved - all expensive options to range owners.

Ballpicker will be put through its paces in public for the very first time on Stand No. W28 at IoG SALTEX 2005, taking place at the Royal Windsor Racecourse from 6 - 8 September. Price of the machine and its installation will be announced at the show.

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