Preventing Lawn Tractor & Mower Rollovers

Like their larger agricultural cousins, lawn tractors and riding mowers are prone to tipping on steep slopes. The result is often fatal for the operator, particularly if the machine rolls completely over. A Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) can be lifesaving by limiting the degree of roll, but current large-tractor design models do not properly account for the geometry of smaller machines. For example, the mowing deck on a smaller machine may radically change its rollover characteristics.

Dr. Paul Ayers of the Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science department is modifying an existing computer model that predicts rollover to account for these smaller tractors and their unique dimensions. Paul and his students have built a roll-testing facility, and are using high-speed video to analyze the roll of a test vehicle for different ROPS heights. They are also doing field tests with a commercial mower. The result should be a new understanding of the dynamics of these smaller machines, and an improved standard of protection for their operators.

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