10 Best Robotic Mowers | March 2017
- theft protection system
- charges in two to three hours
- built-in bump sensors
- adapts to lawn's growth rate
- silent operation with zero emissions
- requires separate installation kit
- counter-balanced floating deck
- up to one-quarter acre coverage
- programmable for multiple zones
- child lock safety feature
- mows on grades up to 20 degrees
- zero carbon emissions
- multiple zone programming
- rain sensor and child safety lock
- perimeter wire and pegs included
- handles lawns over one acre
- smartphone app control
- adjustable cutting height
- quiet and bagless operation
- modular design with snap-on blades
- unique edge mode
Ease And Automation For Your Grass
Lawn control is often the bane of many backyard enthusiasts who are constantly trying to make every blade of grass look as attractive as possible. A green, well-manicured lawn is the sign of a healthy one. Those with an obsession for proper lawn care may consider it a personal insult to see weeds or dead patches of grass on their property, but may find it difficult to stay ahead of it all the time. Traditional lawn mowers can be too loud, too rough, and require the use of toxic gasoline to operate efficiently. For that reason, a robotic lawn mower may be in your future.
Also known as an autonomous mower, the robotic lawn mower is a battery-operated device capable of cutting grass without human intervention. This mower operates using the information received from its electromagnetic sensors and works in tandem with a low-voltage wire placed around the perimeter of a user's lawn. This wire emits an electromagnetic field, which the mower interprets as the boundary of the area to be cut.
Each electromagnetic sensor contains 4 components, including two emitters, a signal encoder, and the signal processing circuit. Each emitter also has two separate plates with current-carrying wires that produce their own magnetic fields. These magnetic fields interact with the field being produced by the lawn's perimeter wire, which allows the sensor to detect electromagnetic induction from the perimeter wire. This action ultimately causes the plates to rotate in one direction or another. Once the encoder has analyzed the signals, they are then collected by the emitters through a measurement of the distances that the plates have rotated.
It is the job of the signal processing circuit to organize this collected information so that the encoder can calculate the rotation of both the inner and outer parts of the emitters. All of these sensor's components help the mower to detect the electric current in the perimeter wire in order to determine its own orientation and distance from the wire while it's operating. The mower also uses the perimeter wire to locate its charging station when running low on battery power. The charging station also doubles as a storage place for the mower when it's not in use.
Slicing To Precision
The majority of robotic lawn mowers are shaped like large beetles and, depending on the manufacturer, offer a variety of different blade designs and battery choices. Unlike the large, high-impact rotary blades associated with conventional mowers, the robotic mower features single, double, or triple-bladed cutting action designed to slice blades of grass into small pieces rather than shredding it. With this style of cutting, grass clippings remain short and are able to decompose quickly.
This decomposition can actually serve to nourish the grass upon the release of nitrogen into the soil, giving the robotic mower an environmentally-sustainable design. Its electromagnetic sensors also prevent the need for the user to ensure that the mower is operating within its boundaries and that it isn't cutting or wasting energy in places that it should not be located.
While traditional mowers are capable of making clippings short, the robotic mower is significantly more energy efficient and eco-friendly than many of its gasoline-powered counterparts. One must also consider the size of their intended cutting area. Many robotic mowers are ideal for cutting small to medium-sized lawns, considering their compact size and intricate blade systems.
Similar to how a vehicle's shock sensor system works to deter thieves, some of the best robotic mowers leverage similar bump sensor systems that will allow the devices to avoid and mow around obstacles on the grass without getting damaged or having such objects interfere with their programming. This will come in handy if your backyard has flagpoles, posts, or other objects that might get in the mower's way. Some mowers feature rubber bumper exteriors with internal contacts for their sensors, while others use switches activated by the movement of their outer shells to avoid impacts.
A mower with an intuitive and easy-to-access user control panel on its top will be a welcome convenience, since the whole idea of the device is to be able to program it and allow it to cut grass without having to manually control it. Many of these devices also have built-in rain sensors designed to send the units back to their charging stations should the weather become uncooperative during operation.
If the intention is to run the device when the whole family is around, one must also be sure that their mower includes additional safety features, such as child locks and tilt sensors to shut down the motor if the unit has been compromised.
A Brief History Of Robotic Mowers
The lawn mower has a history that dates back to 1830 and English inventor Edward Beard Budding. Budding's invention was referred to as a cylinder mower. It was originally designed to cut grass on sports grounds and large gardens as an alternative to the scythe. It was a crude device with a rear roller and a cutting cylinder in front. Its gears sent power from the rear roller to the cutting cylinder. This mower was difficult to use and it required the efforts of two people to both push and pull the device at the same time.
The 1890s saw the birth of steam-powered lawn mowers, which were followed by the first gas-powered mowers in the early 1900s. Between the 1930s and 1950s, lawn mowers gradually became smaller, lighter, and more efficient than their predecessors. It is believed that the first fully robotic lawn mower (the MowBot) was invented and patented as early as 1969 and leveraged much of the same technology used by today's generation of automatic mowers.
The first solar-powered robotic mower appeared in 1995. Nearly a decade later in 2005, the first commercial use of the robotic lawn mower occurred and the device soon represented the second largest category of domestic robots used by the end of that year. By 2012, the increase in robotic lawn mower sales surpassed the sale of traditional gas-powered mowers by fifteen times. With the growing popularity of mobile phone technology, some of the most cutting-edge robotic mowers now integrate custom apps for adjusting their settings and operating schedules remotely.