I have only ever used one remote-control mower, many years ago, so I was very excited to get my hands on the new McConnel Robocut S300 and see what it was capable of. I was very impressed and surprised at the variety of material that can be cut, as well as the variety of terrain the machine is capable of operating on.
The machine itself is a wide-tracked unit with a very low centre of gravity and capable of cutting on slopes of 55 degrees – considerably more than any conventional mower could come close to. It’s also much faster, neater and safer than an operator with a handheld brushcutter, and more capable as well, with it mowing down small saplings with ease. I tested the Robocut S300 on some sloping terrain the council doesn’t even attempt to slash due to the steepness. The ground cover had been allowed to grow for years and I suspect it’s because it’s too dangerous for any operator or machine. The Robocut S300 ploughed through the area, on various types of material and on varying slopes. It was very impressive indeed.
Drive is via electric motors that give a smooth propulsion and precise control, rather than through hydro-drive units as in zero-turn mowers, and the electric motors are more economical. The electric motors on the McConnel Robot S300 are powered by a generator driven by a Vanguard Commercial 28hp fuel-injected engine, and the fuel injection enables the engine to run on the excessive slopes where a carburetted engine would fail. Cutting width is 1.1 metres and updraft mulching blades are fitted. These blades mulched up extremely long grass and scrub with ease in one pass on a high-cut setting, before another pass at a lower setting enabled a lower finish – cutting heights vary from 25mm to 180mm. A hinged cowl which lifts easily and holds in place covers the internals of the machine to eliminate the accumulation of debris. With the cowl up engine access for maintenance is easy, as is access to the removable fuel container, two of which come with the machine. The removable fuel container can be replaced with a full one in about 30 seconds. An onboard fault diagnostic screen is also located under the cowl in case of any issues.
I found the McConnel Robocut S300 surprisingly easy to operate, although I would expect it would take a full day’s use to be able to operate the machine efficiently and to its full potential. The remote control has a waistband to secure to your body for convenient operation, and two joysticks operate forward, reverse, turning and cutting-height adjustment. The engine can be started from the remote control and the throttle adjusted as well. Blade engagement and disengagement is also via the remote, as is the adjustable ground speed and tracking adjustment for extreme slopes. An emergency-stop button is easily activated on the remote if the operator needs to shut down the machine in a hurry, and a digital screen in the centre shows speed, engine RPM, cutting height and an hour meter. Range between the remote and machine can be up to an impressive 150 metres, enabling an operator to be in a safe place while cutting dangerous terrain. This long range could also see an operator sitting in their vehicle out of the weather on a rainy or extremely hot day. Although the review machine wasn’t fitted with a GPS, it is GPS-enabled, so for an added cost this feature is very impressive. Once fitted, the operator drives around the perimeter of the site to map out the area to cut, presses the ‘forward’ control, and the S300 then automatically mows the entire area with minimal overlapping of runs of two centimetres. The machine is also bi-directional, so it mows in either direction. On a steep slope you can either go up and reverse back down on another line, or across the slope and reverse back at the same speeds. This saves time wasted during turning.
I would have to say that the McConnel Robocut S300 grossly outperformed my expectations. It cut through long, overgrown material with ease in one pass, and material I thought would take a few passes to get down was effortlessly pulverised. On the other hand, the S300 was just as comfortable cutting regular maintained grass, producing an excellent, neat, even finish. The ability to be able to tackle various materials and operate on such a wide range of terrain makes the Robocut S300 a truly impressive machine in my view.
Find out more at international mowers.com.au.