There’s a famous quote that goes something like this: The world doesn’t want a product that’s 15 years ahead of its time; the world wants a product that’s 15 minutes ahead of its time. When the new Husqvarna RAMUS Design Concept hedge trimmer was unveiled in Antwerp, Belgium last week, we saw something new—something unknown. Is this what the future of landscaping would look like? I wasn’t sure, but I did know that even if Husqvarna reached too far forward, it was reaching for a place that would drive innovation and create more highly advanced products.
When Towe Wessman, VP Global Design and Rajinder Mehra, Brand Design Manager showed us the new Husqvarna RAMUS Design Concept hedge trimmer, they did it with a combination of PowerPoint, a live demonstration of a Google Glass-inspired protective visor, and a full-scale mockup of the new concept hedge trimming tool. As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder if next year we see a hovercraft edition of the Husqvarna M-ZT 52 zero turn mower (I hope so!)
Husqvarna use “Ramus” because it is loosely translated to mean “branch” which alludes both to the products intended use as well as the connectivity of the product to other components. Looking at the Husqvarna brand as well as the various outdoor industries, the design team took those insights and re-imagined the future. One of the challenges was tackling the care and trimming of free form, geometric, and repetitive shapes—all items which present major obstacles and challenges with a hedge trimmer. There was also the challenge of cutting in a sweeping motion versus precise vertical cuts and horizontal work. For anyone who’s used a hedge trimmer, these are common challenges that range only in the level of difficulty and precision required.
Husqvarna asked: What if they took all of their needs as well as the current line up of hedge trimming products and came up with a new type of hedge trimmer system? The Husqvarna Ramus is a “holistic” solution that includes a heads up visor, backpack battery, and (of course) the streamlined and lightweight hedge trimmer.
Physical Features of the Husqvarna Ramus Concept Hedge Trimmer
Aside from the three components there’s the question of what exactly Husqvarna proposed to make the Ramus hedge trimmer, visor, and belt pack battery better and more advanced than anything currently on the market. We have to admit that even the basics—the ergonomics of the Ramus Hedge Trimmer—were well thought out. The Husqvarna Ramus places 50% of the weight in front of the handle, and 50% after, giving the tool an “impossibly perfect” balance. They also reduced the weight of the hedge trimmer to just over 6.5 lbs. While this may not sound like much—realize that the Husqvarna Ramus is designed to allow for 20-inches of handle extension when needed—without the need for an accessory or even at the use of tools. The head also articulates for a 90 degree high cut or -30 agree low cut.
The shaft of the tool is made from carbon fiber, and the head has a magnesium casing. The enclosed brushless motor makes up the bulk of the weight, and the tool would be lighter than most models on the market of which we’re aware.
Flesh Sensing Technology
The tech built right into the Ramus (or at least proposed, since the tool doesn’t truly exist in the real world) includes a nifty feature whereby the hedge trimmer blades have a flesh detecting system much like the SawStop jobsite table saw or the Bosch ReaXX table saw whereby any contact of the liquid metal trimmer blades to skin would shut down the tool immediately and activate a blade brake. They didn’t go into how this might occur, but given the ease with which you can insert a rod in between the blades and stop a conventional trimmer, we’d wager it would be something akin to that.
The Husqvarna Ramus concept hedge trimmer would include a slim 9 Ah battery, but would provide a magnetic connector for attaching an external 18 Ah battery belt to the hedge trimmer for extended use.
Husqvarna Ramus Visor with Heads-up Display
The Husqvarna Ramus Visor with heads-up display is a major part of the concept design. This visor would include a gyroscope to understand the position and angle of the user’s head at all times in relation to the tool. It would have sensors to detect a user’s pulse as well as their core temperature (coming of their head). There are integrated speakers, and the front has a microphone for communicating to others in your local group. The visor would also use real-time data from the trimmer to support the operator with everything from machine status information to battery level and tool health.
Finally, a front-mounted camera and internal augmented reality system, would allow for the user to superimpose an overlay of how the site should look when trimmed. It could also keep you abreast of weather conditions, show the remaining battery levels, and replay the on-tool camera view back to you for high-cutting assitance.
Of course, the Husqvarna Ramus concept hedge trimmer also proposed aiding in making specific cuts that follow a geometric pattern, giving you a map of the area, and also overlaying the desired cutting work plan for a more complex design. You could create template patterns based on the work you’ve already done, and then use this augmented reality to replicate that shape and give cutting directions right in the visor. It would let you get the same proportions and results over and over again. You’d essentially cut reality to match the overlaid plan. This was obviously a very far-reaching goal—and ambitious to say the least—but it did get everyone in attendance dreaming about what might be possible in the future. The visor would also facilitate an almost “chat” like communication between workers—something that could either be very cool or backfire immensely in terms of productivity!
Operating the Husqvarna Ramus Hedge Trimmer
So how could this work? Well, you’d go to your location, scan the environment, and assign tasks. You’d write up a detailed work plan and figure out the required staffing. The operator will have a pre-visualized work plan and can commence working immediately.
“This concept is not your typical trimmer for weekend trimming, the ambition has been to look ahead and create unprecedented performance to support professionals in taking the next step. With Ramus, operators can work with less and more balanced weight that allow them to use it more creatively, with great flow and precision properties in the tool.”
– Rajinder Mehra, Brand Design Manager at Husqvarna
The concept trimmer is operated through an extendable telescope handle, with resistive and pressure sensitive grips that allow the operator to handle the tool through a great variety of holdings while working. The handle automatically senses when the operators has two hands on the grip, regardless of how they are placed on the handle.
Each blade is equipped with a sensor that communicates with the battery to govern exactly how much power should be provided for the job at hand at the moment.
Hedge trimmer features
- Integrated micro camera
- Quick exchangeable knifes that can be tilted for work in multiple angles
- Linear electric engine
- Resistive and pressure sensitive handles to activate and lock/unlock the trimmer
- Carbon fiber body
- Liquid metal knife blades
- Sensors on each knife to share real-time data while working
- Connected battery technology
- Gyro and pulse sensors
- Integrated GPS, camera, and scanner
- Augmented reality visor
- Microphone and com-radio to facilitate team communications
- Built-in battery
Hip belt battery features
- Additional power source to extend run time
- Magnetically attached power connectors
- Ergonomic design that allows different positions while working
The design concept Husqvarna Ramus was unveiled at an international press event in Antwerp September 30, 2015. The concept is based on ideas for the future, and there are no current plans for production