TECH, STUFF & GEAR - The remarkable capabilities of robotic lawn mowers
Lawn mowing used to be pretty low-tech. A simple cutting system, which evolved to include a motor (electric or petrol) in the mid-20th century was sufficient to keep the lawn looking neat. But motor or no motor, mowing was always a largely manual affair.
Automation is the buzzword around all home and garden appliances and it’s not going anywhere. We are way too busy to be troubled with mundane chores such as mowing the lawn and products which make life easier are in high demand.
Robotic lawn mowers are high-tech and automated by their very nature, but manufacturers are constantly raising the bar to create even more functionality, safety and control.
Of course, to us tech geeks, this means more exciting mowers.
Check out some of the cool gear available on certain models of robotic mower.
Husqvarna are leading the way with this one. By creating a map of the garden and remembering where the guide wires and boundaries are, the onboard GPS registers which areas it has already mowed and will change its mowing pattern to ensure even cutting. Robotic lawn mowers are specifically designed to mow randomly, which experts agree is the healthiest way to mow your lawn. GPS capabilities ensure that every square inch of the lawn is covered evenly. The GPS even helps keep your mower more secure (more on that later).
GSM or “Global system for mobile communications” means that your lawn mower and your smart phone are connected so that they can communicate. Yes, your lawnmower actually speaks to your smart phone, whaaaat? GSM technology allows the lawn mower to collect technical information (faults, service status etc) and sends that information right back to your smartphone. So, you could be sipping champagne in St Tropez and chatting to your mower while you do it (note: also works if you’re having a shandy in Slough).
A weather timer tells the mowers to adjust its mowing schedule according to the weather. In times of warm wet weather (standard UK summertime) the mowing time is increased, mowing more frequently to account for speedier growing times. During a dry weather spell, the mowing time is reduced, because, well, the grass doesn’t grow. This ensures that your little mower is working efficiently and not going out to mow when there isn’t anything for it to do. This also keeps the lawn healthier by protecting dry, brittle grass from excess movement.
One thing we get asked all the time about robotic mowers is “what if it gets stolen?” Well, you needn’t worry, many robotic lawn mowers actually have more security than your car or house.
There are several different ways that robotic lawn mowers can be protected from theft. Many of them have a personal PIN code which is set during installation. After that, you can set how often you would like it to check your PIN code: no PIN, no mow. And when the alarm system is activated, the PIN is the only thing that will turn it off.
Husqvarna’s GPS even includes a tracking system, so that if someone takes off with your mower you can report its whereabouts to the police. And a two-way SMS service will text you to keep you informed of its movements.
Most robotic mower models have a scheduling feature. This is one of the most popular functions because it is what makes robotic lawn mowers truly automated. Once the schedule is set up, you can just sit back, relax and let the mower do the work. You don’t have to remind it (or get it to move off the sofa). You can choose to avoid the times when the garden or is in use (or have it set to casually come out during the parties so you can make everyone jealous) or you can choose for it to mow during the night (they are so quiet they won’t disturb the neighbours) and you can wake up to the smell of freshly mown grass.
Smart phone apps
Smart phone connectivity comes as standard with many robotic mower models, allowing you to set mowing schedules and cutting height, diagnose faults and even control your mower from your phone.
The Internet of Things is creating more and more opportunities for tech connectivity and as this capability grows we will see even more reliance on home robotics and increased functionality for our mowers. Following on from tech seen in robotic vacuum cleaners, we could see robotic lawn mowers learning more about their surroundings and reporting back to us on the health and well-being of our lawns or areas where they need special attention.