CD#31 – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The Castle Drum would like to welcome two rather unusual new members of staff to the ranks. Neither has an official given name (yet), but the first hails from Sweden and goes by the designation Husqvarna 430X.

The Husqvarna 430X – complete with headlights so it can continue cutting grass while all the humans are safely a-bed.

You may have already spotted this automated electric lawnmower in the Courtyard recently while the Gardens and Grounds Team used a trial period to put it through its paces. The Castle Drum is pleased to report that the Husqvarna 430X will now join the team on a permanent basis, covering the Courtyard in the first instance, before adding the lawns of the Elizabethan Gardens to its regular duties.

Computation leads to circumnavigation. A metal grate is no match for the 430X.

Sadly, the 430X is incapable of the sort of lawn stripes that would shame Wembley Stadium, but this is not to say that it is not an utterly ingenious machine. Thanks to built-in GPS, it is capable of learning its terrain and even remembering the exact positions of obstacles and particularly tufty areas of grass. While the path it chooses may appear rather erratic to the casual bystander, by cutting the grass a small bit at a time, its three razor-sharp blades should deliver a lawn quality that conventional blades could never achieve. As it rolls along, it will also create miniscule clippings that will provide a constant source of fertilization for our lawns, and help to keep them healthy, lush and green. Best of all, this electric mower is silent, so it is good for both the environment and anyone trying to work in peace.

The Mavic Pro Platinum takes off on its maiden flight – 13th December 2018
Straight to work. A bird’s-eye view of Herstmonceux Castle on a bright December morning.

Our second new addition is the Mavic Pro Platinum. This camera drone has a range of around 4 miles and can shoot photographs and videos in exceptional 4K quality. While the rather exciting potential for use in our marketing and promotional activities immediately springs to mind, it will also carry out important duties for the Maintenance Team. The clarity of the images it records are such that the drone can be used for high-risk surveys of the Castle’s exterior brickwork, roof and battlements. It should practically remove the need for sending brave folk up ladders and allow the team to maintain a photographic record of the Castle’s general state of repair. It represents a truly 21st century way of ensuring that our 15th century castle complies with Health and Safety regulations.

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While The Castle Drum recognizes the very real threat of instigating another Boaty McBoatface-style debacle, we figure we can’t go around referring to our new additions as Husqvarna 430X and Mavic Pro Platinum forever. If anyone in the Castle community has any inspired ideas about what to christen a fully automated Swedish lawnmower, or a sophisticated quad-copter camera drone, please drop us a line. We could always put the question to the students next term of course, but then why should they have all the fun?

»’I think I’ll just take another walk,’ he said.
‘Don’t blame you,’ said Marvin and counted five hundred and ninety-seven thousand million sheep before falling asleep again a second later.«