The 6 Best Robotic Mowers
This wiki has been updated 27 times since it was first published in January of 2016. If tending to your property tends to give you anxiety, you can use one of these robotic mowers to cut your lawn while you put your feet up and enjoy a cold beverage. These models can handle everything from modest yards to substantial plots, with helpful features like rain detection, automatic tip-over shutoff, and anti-theft capabilities like PIN protection and audible alarms. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 01, 2021:
We’d hoped to see more development since the last time we visited this list, but it still appears that this category is very much in the nascent stages of evolution, as we found few new models to consider. Of the ones we did see, the only option we added was the Robomow RX20 — a miniature version of the Robomow RS630, which, at seven inches, offers about a third of its big cousin’s cutting width. It should be noted, however, that this isn’t much less than many others in the category. The Husqvarna Automower 315X, for example, has a cutting width that’s less than nine inches.
Beyond that, although we did take notice of a few other new options from lesser-known brands, we were apprehensive to add any. None of these models had garnered much user feedback thus far, and since we are talking about robots equipped with sharp blades, it seemed like the stakes were pretty high, so we thought it best to play it safe and hold off on adding them until they’ve properly proven themselves. We also removed the McCulloch ROB R1000 and Seamagic Grasshopper Pre-Programmed due to availability issues, and eliminated the Gardena 4077 R50Li due to quality concerns, which, all and all, ended up with our list shrinking a bit.
Lastly, we replaced the Worx Landroid WR150 and Husqvarna Automower 115H with the Worx Landroid WR153 and Husqvarna Automower 115H Connect. Both of these new models are nearly identical to the ones they replaced, but address a common shortcoming shared by their predecessors, which was the lack of a GPS module. You can now buy these models with confidence, and worry a bit less about somebody walking off with them when you leave them unattended to work on your lawn, as they’ll both notify their owner remotely if they ever leave the property. The 115H Connect will even emit an audible alarm if somebody picks it up, and won't stop until somebody deactivates it with a PIN number.
There’s some good models in this category right now, and it’s exciting to think about what the future might hold for it, but at present the consumer options in this space are all quite small, so, for users with very big properties, a solid riding lawn mower is still probably the way to go.
February 14, 2020:
There's no doubt that this technology is still a work in progress, but companies like Husqvarna, Worx, and Robomow continue to put out updated models that incorporate modern features that might take the sting out of sometimes frustrating performance. The Husqvarna Automower 315X and the Robomow RS630, for example, both interface with home automation systems like Alexa and Google Home Assistant, allowing users to set schedules and use voice commands to control the mower. And in addition to rain detection that sends many models back to their bases, newer offerings tend to also feature improved weather-resistance, so whether they fails to return or are designed to keep working in a downpour, it'll be safe.
We did send off a number of models by Robomow, however, mainly due to issues responding to perimeter wire, even cutting its own wire where it isn't well-buried enough. We also saw an upgrade to our previously included Worx model in the Worx Landroid WR150, which has one of the shortest charge times around despite still running long enough to tackle up to half an acre.
Husqavarna Automower 435X It doesn't come cheap, but it's unlikely that you'll be disappointed in this machine's performance, with an all-wheel-drive transmission that can climb 35-degree inclines, and a 30-minute charge time that can typically keep it running for 100 minutes. husqvarna.com
Left Hand Robotics RT-1000 It's a bit on the big side for most backyards, but for large premises, this robotic tractor is ready to go to work. Its mower deck features an adjustable cutting height of one to five inches, and can take down 20 acres on a single tank of gas. With the right attachment, this beast can clear snow, too. lefthandrobotics.com
Graze Commercial Lawn Mower It hasn't made it to market just yet, but if it does, you can expect this industrial-sized unit to seriously disrupt a lot of long-standing lawn contracts for big properties. It's a machine worth keeping an eye on if you have an interest invested in maintaining parks, golf courses or other similar locations. grazemowing.com
Ease And Automation For Your Grass
The charging station also doubles as a storage place for the mower when it's not in use.
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 four 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.
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.
By 2012, the increase in robotic lawn mower sales surpassed the sale of traditional gas-powered mowers by fifteen times.
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.