Robot Mowers: How Safe Are They?

Husqvarna Auto Mower On Lawn
Robot mowers, auto mowers, robomowers: whatever you want to call them, they’re here to stay and most definitely growing in popularity amongst modern home owners. However, they suffer from an unsubstantiated reputation of not being safe in some circumstances. We’ll aim to quash those rumours in this post.

One of the main reasons that some people are reticent about investing in a robotic lawnmower are concerns over safety and security. Can you really trust a machine enough not to cause damage if you relinquish control over your lawn maintenance? And how do you know that some passing chancer won’t hop over the fence and make off with your robotic helper at the first given opportunity? But robotic lawnmowers are a fantastic way of saving time and effort in the garden, while also ensuring a beautifully mown lawn surface all year round. And modern automated mower design takes at least as much account of safety and security as it does grass cutting, so the current generation of robotic lawnmowers from manufacturers such as Flymo, Bosch, Honda and Husqvarna will deliver outstanding peace of mind along with consistently exceptional mowing results.

But if letting a robot armed with a blade loose in your garden still doesn’t sound like the most sensible idea, let us take a moment to reassure you further. These days, for example, all robotic lawnmowers worth their salt come with effective collision detection systems featuring hi-tech sensors to prevent them from bumping into obstacles. This is primarily for navigation, as it allows your mower to stop and turn before running into walls or other obstructions, but it also means that your mower will stop before crashing into people and pets, alleviating accidents and injuries. The boundary wire system used by the majority of automated mowers on the market today also helps in this regard, as it allows you to clearly demarcate the areas within which you want your mower to operate.

In addition to this there are a few dedicated safety features utilised by modern robotic mowers which you should definitely look out for before making a purchase:

  • First, your robot mower should provide plenty of clearance between the edge of the chassis and the cutting blade to ensure completely safe cutting;
  • Second, your machine should feature “lift and tilt” sensors to automatically shut off the cutting system when the mower is picked up or tipped over;
  • Third, your robot mower should feature an easily-accessible and highly visible emergency stop button (on Husqvarna’s machines this is usually a big red button on the top of the chassis with the word “STOP” written on it, so you can’t fault them for clarity).

Honda’s robot mowers (the Miimo 300 and Miimo 500) even go one step further in terms of safety, with a clever “shatterproof” blade system ensuring that the cutters pivot inwards rather than breaking should they come into contact with a hard object hidden in the grass, such as a stone.

Robot Mower Underdeck and Blades
The underdeck design of robot mowers leaves little to chance where safety is concerned. As seen here, the blades are positioned well away from the outer edge of the mower, eliminating the chance of injury to feet, hands and pets should they get too close.

The most important way in which a robotic mower boosts safety, however, is by providing an alternative to old-fashioned petrol lawnmowers. This is because traditional “hands-on” lawn care equipment is often dirty and dangerous, especially if not well maintained, so can cause injuries if used improperly. In fact, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, there are more than 6,500 lawnmower related accidents in the UK every year. Eliminating the need to mow the lawn manually therefore eliminates the risk of injury which comes with routine lawn maintenance, as well as any possibility of aggravating existing strains while heaving a heavy lawnmower around. Allergy sufferers, meanwhile, will also appreciate how an automatic lawnmower practically eliminates contact with grass waste (so no more loading up on antihistamines every time the lawn needs a tidy). On top of all of this modern robot mowers are much quieter and cleaner running than any conventional petrol lawnmower, so they also eliminate harmful exhaust fumes and significantly reduce noise pollution for an even more wholesome mowing experience.

Rather than posing a safety risk, then, a well designed robotic lawnmower will in fact make maintaining a pristinely tidy lawn significantly safer than using a conventional lawnmower. And these machines can look after themselves too, if it comes to it. The vast majority of models on the market these days are completely weatherproofed, for example, so you don’t have to worry about leaving them out in the rain. Likewise, robust polymer bodywork means that any occasional knocks and bumps that your robotic mower does receive shouldn’t impede its progress. These stoic little helpers are therefore perfectly capable of providing years of effective service with only minimal human intervention required.

Bosch Indego In The Garden
No safety concerns here. Manufacturers have invested huge sums of money into making robot mowers much safer than their petrol cousins. Sensors detect when objects are too close, and adjust the mower accordingly.

But perhaps it isn’t the durability of robotic mowers which has been worrying you. Robotic mowers can be expensive, after all, so is this really the sort of thing you want to leave tending the lawn while you head off on holiday? It is, of course, impossible to completely eliminate the risk of theft (so be sensible and don’t leave it unguarded in the front yard if there have been reports of thefts in the neighbourhood unless you have very comprehensive home contents insurance). But most modern automated mowers come with a PIN security system and an anti-theft alarm to lock out unauthorised users and discourage potential thieves. An alarm will therefore sound if your robot mower is stopped or lifted without someone entering the correct PIN code, while many machines are also programmed to function only in conjunction with their own docking bay for added security.

Moreover, at the top end of the robotic mower market there are even more clever security features to keep your automaton safe. Few machines embody this quite as well as Husqvarna’s 265ACX Automower, which in addition to all of the features mentioned above also boasts a GPS communication unit with a built-in two-way SMS text alert system. This means that if someone does try to make off with your robotic friend you’ll be able to track their movements via GPS. Your mower will even text you with a status update if something is wrong and you can add extra mobile phone numbers to the alert system if you’re going on holiday and need someone to keep an eye on things while you’re away. All of this is controlled via Husqvarna’s “My Automower® App”, which once installed on your phone allows you to send your mower instructions remotely for even greater convenience and peace of mind.

Vintage Robot Mower
Mind your feet! You might expect to find something like this giving Dr Who a hard time, not cutting your grass. Security and safety probably wasn’t a major concern back-in-the-day, but stealing this monster would have been a challenge, even without alarms.

As such robotic lawnmowers are much harder to steal than they might look, so you certainly shouldn’t let this discourage you from investing in one of these fantastic machines. Nor should concerns about safety, for the various reasons mentioned above, while the superb convenience of automated mowing and the fine finish that these machines can achieve only underlines how accomplished robotic mowers have become. So whatever your feelings about robots in the grand scheme of things, we hope we’ve addressed some of your concerns and that you’ll now consider joining us on the cutting edge of automated lawn maintenance some time soon!