Everything I learned while testing a few robot lawn mowers

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For the past six weeks, I have been conducting an experiment. Twice a week at 5 p.m., each house on the block has a different robotic lawn mower that starts mowing their yards while everyone in the neighborhood goes for their nightly stroll. My neighbors offered to lend me their lawns, which was great for testing various robots on various lawns, but it was also an amazing social experiment to see how people felt about robots. Most people were mesmerized, stopping to watch the robots at work and asking questions, gathering in small groups on street corners to chat. But they've also caused consternation on Nextdoor posts — some people have expressed judgment about the bots, saying they find them elitist and a waste of money, and on a few occasions, wouldn't mind saying that directly to my neighbor. Still, I'm impressed with how the robot lawn mower has brought my neighbors together. Not only do the wonders of robots allow people to talk to each other in person and online, but by using the robot on more than one lawn, I discovered that you can share a robotic lawnmower with your neighbors. Here are some other observations I realized.

Remote control is essential

Robotic lawn mowers define boundaries in many ways. Some require buried boundary lines around the mowing area, and even some cordless lawn mowers still require physical RFID tags (a common tracking system similar to Apple AirTags) that you can scan into the app and place around your yard as Placemark or create "unlabeled". -go to” areas. While physical markers are probably the most accurate way to define map areas, I would add that they also require a lot of work, says Scott Porteous, head of robotics products at Husqvarna (one of the oldest companies in lawn mowing). Installation. Cordless lawn mowers using GPS are easier, just use the remote control feature in the app to walk the robot once around the edge of the area; the robot will then figure out the inside of the space if you need it later. The robot can be moved around using the remote control, whether to a new space or if it gets stuck. If I were to buy a robotic lawn mower tomorrow, no matter the price, I would be looking for a way to use this setup without any physical markings. lawnmower.

Additional anti-theft strategies need to be used

For the first few weeks, I would watch every run of the mowers, making sure they made it back to the dock—I was worried about the lights on each robot acting as beacons at night. Each of them had a sticker I put on them explaining that they were worthless once they left the house. I think I have the anti-theft feature activated on all my lawnmowers: I have it turned on in every app, and I even get the occasional false alarm that the Naimow installed across the street has exceeded its boundaries. But I would look out the window and clearly see it in the garage, charging like crazy. As time went on, I relaxed. After all, these aren't toy cars—they're big, heavy, and parked on someone's lawn. Then Luba 2 disappeared. Someone brushed it on my next door neighbor's lawn while mowing in the morning - I didn't get an alert, nor did any of the cameras pick up on it.

This is my understanding of the fallacy of anti-theft features. While robots typically stop working after leaving a house, GPS appears to stop working as well. Most bots allow you to install a 4G card, but why is not explained well in the instructions: Read as a way to simply extend the signal in case the WiFi on your property isn't working. But it turns out that the only way robots can communicate outdoors is through LTE; you can't find them without it. (Turns out, a lot of people put Apple AirTags Help find it in the bot. )

When we realized Luba 2 was missing, I opened the app hoping to get a GPS update of its location, but the app still thought it was next door. Mammotion's technical support was of little help in recognizing the urgency to act quickly or in helping to locate the bot. So if you plan on installing a robot on your front lawn, take as many extra safety measures as possible. First, install a camera that covers the entire area, install a tracking tag, and install a 4G card just in case. I would even test the anti-theft feature by picking up the robot and taking it outside of the perimeter to make sure you get notifications and everything is set up correctly. Additionally, many people park their robots somewhere other than the front of the house, such as in the garage or behind. You might have to make sure your garage or gate is open when the robot goes to work, which means it's less autonomous but potentially safer. With investment in mind, you could also try adding the robot to your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy.

Robot lawn mowers work best on uncomplicated lawns

While some robots, like the Luba 2, are great at climbing slopes or obstacles, and some, like the Navimow, can turn on pins, lawn mowing robots do need to work on flat, flat ground. The fewer obstacles, the better, especially small obstacles such as lighting, flagpoles or shepherd's hooks that require the mower to maneuver around small marks. Smaller mowers have a hard time handling steep slopes and hills. You'll probably spend at least a little time modifying your yard to make your robot lawn mower work more efficiently, whether that's leveling the yard, making the borders of your flower beds easier to identify, or clearing small obstructions like bird feeder poles. The more open space there is for a robot lawn mower to operate, the more efficient it will be.

If you want lawn tracks, buy a heavier-duty mower

Interestingly, for many people, one of the most valuable aspects of mowing is the lines that are left on the lawn after mowing. Heavier lawnmowers will leave a mark regardless of their power, so small, lightweight robots are less likely to leave a mark, whereas a heavy-duty robot like the Luba will. Still, due to their weight, none of these robots will impress like ride-on lawn mowers or even walk-behind lawn mowers.

I've never been a fan of mowing lawns, so having that chore relieved by a robot is great for me. But choosing the right robot and making your yard more lawnmower-friendly is crucial, and you have to make sure it's not easily accessible to potential thieves. Still, I'm excited about how these robots will evolve over the next few years, and just like robot vacuum cleaners, I'm excited to have my robot do the job so I don't have to.