What equipment on your golf course would you like to see safely drive itself? Help us automate ours and we will help you automate yours. Two of the big mower companies turned down my offer to help them automate their mowers and bring them to market. That only leaves me one option to get the self-driving mowers I need: it is time to get the band back together and automate the Crown machines myself, one machine at a time.

From 2001-07, I led a DARPA Grand Challenge team that helped to develop the self-driving system being used extensively by the U.S. Army since 2007, saving more than one soldier’s life a day. This life-saving technology is now transitioning to civilian cars, buses and trucks, and is expected to save 166 lives a day. Why not use this self-driving system on golf course mowers that mow set patterns?

Like before, membership on my team is open to just about anyone who wants to play. Members and supporters will be contributing whatever they can in money, manpower and materials in exchange for shares in the result. Because everyone is a volunteer, we all must keep our day jobs, but like the retired super heroes in “The Incredibles,” we can work on saving the world on our bowling night.

TYING UP LOOSE ENDS

Going through my old papers I found that I had qualified years ago for but never bought the Equipment & Engine Training Council Certified Master Technician patch for my jacket. The costs of the other patches were covered by the testing fees and came with my individual area certifications. I ordered the patch online for $20 just for fun and it arrived a few days ago. Are your mechanics certified?

4WD

The two-track to the hardware store is a sand hill. The solution is to use our only four-wheel drive utility vehicle whenever I make a run to the hardware store for supplies or parts. In first gear with the rear differential locked and the four-wheel drive engaged, it goes straight up the long hill without hesitating. I am looking for a way to convert some of our other utility vehicles to 4WD using stock parts. Here is a picture of how Jeep connects their front wheels to the drive line.

TURNING CIRCLE

I have been studying how such a tight turning circle is achieved on new equipment with the hope of improving the turning circle of the older equipment in my motor pool. In one case, the newer model utility vehicle came without the turning stops that were on the old one, so I cut them off to match the new version, greatly reducing the older vehicles turning circle.

SET SPEED

New mowers have electronic controls that let you set max mow speed on the screen. For older mowers, I have been setting the speed using the GPS unit out of my car and the mechanical speed stops on the mowers.

NEW SECURITY

After a series of break-ins where gasoline was siphoned out of the vehicles in storage, we bought a security camera from Staples which I installed. It was only $129 and is quite sophisticated. It can be remotely controlled from the superintendent’s smart phone and will text him whenever there is motion in the shop at night and show him a 10-second clip of what tripped the alarm. He can stream the video live to his smart phone whereever he is in the world. It has night vision so he can see in the dark as well as daylight. Because the camera was installed, no more gasoline has gone missing. Also, he gets a text when the first person shows up for work each day. The camera has a mike on it so he can hear us talking in the shop and a speaker so he can join the conversation remotely.

20-TON PRESS

I got a good price on a 20-ton press and use it nearly every day since it arrived. I put it next to the tool box because sockets make great press tools and having them within arm’s reach speeds up the work.

TODAY’S TRICK OF THE TRADE

To remove a bearing race from a blind hole, use the MIG welder to run a bead where the balls rolled. As the weld cools, it shrinks the bearing race enough that it falls out. It does look like a magic trick every time I do this.

BEVERAGE CART RULE #1

“Do not drive the beverage cart on the greens.” No one told her because everyone thought she knew that the beverage cart would leave tracks. We could roll the marks out.