From Isaac Asimov’s concerns about loopholes in the laws of robotics to The Matrix’s SFX-laden Cartesian nightmare, humans have long been anxious about the possibility of a robot apocalypse. But this isn’t fair. If the world is going to end it is far more likely to be the result of something humans have done – like global warming – and some robots are even trying to help save the planet. Admittedly they’re probably going to have to do a bit more than just provide an exceptional emission-free alternative to traditional petrol mowers if this is going to work out in the long run, but bless their little mechanical hearts, they’re doing their best. So let us introduce you to the wonderful world of automated mowing.
A robotic lawnmower (or automower, or robomower) is designed to patrol your garden, mowing the lawn a little bit at a time. There are many obvious advantages to this in terms of saving time and effort – especially if you’ve never been overly keen on shoving a heavy lawnmower around the garden by hand – but the benefits of these machines don’t stop at convenience. One of the primary points of appeal of a robotic lawnmower is that it allows you to replace old-fashioned petrol technology with a machine powered by environmentally-friendly lithium-ion batteries. These long-lasting batteries provide more than enough charge to give your little robot buddy freedom to mow even large gardens with ease, but without the noise and fumes associated with a conventional petrol machine.
As such you won’t have to worry about harmful emissions or noise pollution, so your garden will become a place of wonderful tranquillity and you won’t find yourself choking on exhaust fumes. More importantly, however, is that over the lifetime of your robotic mower this will significantly reduce your horticultural carbon footprint compared to using a petrol lawnmower. Flymo’s user-friendly 1200R, for example, for example, boasts a level of energy consumption roughly equivalent to that of a 10W light bulb, which is far more efficient than any conventional fuel-burning machine. Battery power also offers a variety of additional advantages, such as reduced running costs and eliminating the need to refuel (as your robotic lawnmower will automatically return to its docking bay to recharge whenever its battery runs low).
This is important because in the past the only alternative to petrol machines were corded electric mowers, which could only be used in small gardens with access to a power source. Until recently, then, people with larger gardens had no choice but to use a petrol machine (with the only “green” alternative for effective lawn care being adopting a flock of sheep). But research has shown that using a lawnmower for only one hour can produce as much pollution as four hours of driving a car. The development of the robot mower and dependable lithium-ion batteries therefore represents a revolution in energy efficiency, as even the most powerful robotic mowers are infinitely better for the environment than petrol-burning machines. And compared to this the fact that you don’t have to lift a finger to keep your lawn looking great is only a bonus!
It’s not just at home that low-noise, emission-free mowing has appeal though, as robotic mowers are also increasingly used for grounds maintenance work at universities, hospitals, schools and in other public places where lawns need frequent mowing. Here the quiet performance of a robotic lawnmower is especially important, as when mowing in public spaces noisy petrol lawnmowers can become quite the distraction. An automatic lawnmower, by comparison, can even be set to work at night without causing a disturbance. An energy efficient robotic lawnmower can thus help businesses and other organisations maintain friendly relations with those nearby, comply with emissions targets and keep grassed areas in great condition all at once.
And as the demand for robotic mowers grows the range of different machines on the market does likewise, so now there are robotic horticulturalists tailored for everything from smaller gardens to expansive estates. For small to medium domestic gardens an entry level machine like Flymo’s 1200R or Husqvarna’s 305 will fit the bill nicely, keeping areas up to 500m2 well maintained by using clever sensors and a randomised mowing pattern to help your mower negotiate trees, tricky borders and other obstacles. Larger gardens and lawns between 1,000m2 and 2,200m2 might need something a little more powerful to ensure even coverage, but with machines like Bosch’s Indego, Husqvarna’s 220AC (or the newer 330) and Honda’s Miimo 300 all widely available there are plenty of options open to the discerning hands-free gardener. These mid-range automated machines are more powerful than the entry level models too, so they can even be used to replace a ride-on mower when tending to larger lawns.
The biggest gardens, estates and other properties, however, will need a serious machine to get the job done. For such situations we recommend a mower like Honda’s Miimo 500 or Husqvarna’s 265ACX and 330X Automowers. The Miimo 500 benefits from Honda’s years of experience in robotics and lawnmower design, with hi-tech features sitting alongside traditional mowing technology in one compact package. This includes a range of programmable mowing options and pivoting “swing-back” blades which are designed to ensure safety by bending rather than breaking if they hit a stone, while a maximum mowing capacity of 3,000m2 means that all but the most extensive lawns can be happily maintained. Husqvarna’s 265ACX and 330X Automowers can tackle even bigger lawns (up to 3,200m2 and 6,000m2 respectively) with impressive efficiency, while both also boast a variety of clever features. The 330X’s GPS system and automatic passage sensors, for example, mean that it can navigate even the most complicated gardens with ease, and the inclusion of a weather timer (which adjusts the mower’s working time to suit the lawn’s growth rate) ensures exceptional results all year round.
The incredible variety of models available means that the right robotic mower for you will depend upon your particular requirements, though any will do an exceptional job of keeping lawns and other grassed areas maintained without requiring you to break a sweat. But whichever machine you choose you can feel good that it provides a much more environmentally-friendly method of tackling routine lawn maintenance than any petrol machine on the market, so investing in a robotic mower is at least as good for Mother Earth as it is for you and your lawn.