Every device you can imagine is now being fitted with an electronic brain. Your refrigerator can order your groceries; your thermostat knows what temperature you need to sleep; your television automatically records your favorite shows — and now your lawn mower can tell when the grass is too tall?
Lawn mowing robots are a relatively new addition to the cadre of smart home devices, and they are causing quite an upset in the lawn and gardening world. If you are wondering whether you should immediately invest in a robotic lawn mower, read on.
The History of Robot Lawn Mowers
Lawn mower – bots aren’t exactly new; people have been trying to outsource the monotonous and miserable chore of mowing the grass for decades, and if we can avoid even thinking about the task, all the better.
The first true robot lawn mower, called the MowBot, was patented in 1969, and while technology back then was rudimentary compared to tech capabilities of today, the original MowBot included many of the features that exist in modern autonomous mowers, most notably self-propulsion. Homeowners had to manually set the mowing height by adjusting the cutter blade on the frame, and they had to turn the machine on and off, as well.
Unfortunately, the first MowBot wasn’t an ideal solution. For one, it was incredibly expensive; at a time when a personal computer cost tens of thousands of dollars, the average homeowner certainly didn’t have the cash to spare for a complex, autonomous machine-like MowBot. Secondly, the robot wasn’t as practical as one might expect. To use the robot, homeowners had to set up boundary wires around their grass, so the robot didn’t jump the curb and start mowing their mulch, garden beds or patio. Additionally, MowBot moved in a random pattern, which certainly ensured odd lines across the yard and by no means guaranteed that every inch would be mowed.
Still, just as nearly every technology has advanced since the mid-20th century, so too have robot lawn mowers.
The Present of Mowing Technology
Today, there are more and more robot options than there were in the 1970s, and more of them have better features for modern homeowners. For example, while most robot mowers these days use rechargeable batteries, some autonomous ones are solar-powered, meaning you don’t have to pay to replace batteries or even remember to plug your mower into its charger. In either case, robo-mowers consume less energy and produce fewer emissions than your average gas-powered lawn mower, and they are quieter, reducing neighborhood noise pollution. Plus, some come equipped with sensors that tell them about nearby obstacles, so they won’t try to mow down a tree or a large shrub near your lawn.
However, there are a number of issues that preclude the use of these types of mowers in most yards. If your lawn isn’t bounded by a substantial border, you still have to set up boundary wires to keep the mower on the grass. Mowers can’t handle hills or uneven terrain and can easily get stuck in or damaged by holes. Furthermore, these handy robot gadgets remain relatively expensive. The smallest, simplest robot mower models still cost nearly $2,000, and they fail to do other essential lawn care like a rake, fertilize, and aerate. Alternatively, companies like Trugreen.com have lawn care professionals that can provide a range of services for an extended period for the cost of the robo – lawn mower, and your effort would be entirely hands-off.
As tech advances and proliferates, prices drop. Just as you can find a computer for a couple of hundred bucks, you might be able to find a robot lawn mower for an affordable price in a few years. It’s likely that by then, robo – mowers will be more intelligent, offering features like all-wheel drive to tackle steep grades and moisture sensors to keep away from rain or puddles.
Ultimately, a lawn mowing robot is worthwhile if your grass area is small, flat, well-bounded, and obstacle-free — and if you have plenty of disposable income. Even then, you might do better to invest in qualified lawn experts, who will do way more than mow.