Invasion of the Grass Snatchers
You are judged by the lawn you keep. When it looks nice and neat, your neighbors all love you and heap praise upon you. When your grass is long and unkempt, you can feel the cold stares even in the heat of summer. If it gets bad enough, they may even go so far as to shame you. I had a neighbor once who used to cut my grass for me. He said it was because he enjoyed cutting the grass and our lawns weren’t very big, so he didn’t mind doing both of ours. While I would like to believe him, the truth is probably that I didn’t keep it trimmed as well as he would have liked. And since we were friends, he decided to cut it for me rather than shun me.
Where I live now, I don’t have anyone willing to cut my grass for me, at least not for free. But I definitely need help because I can’t always get to it as fast as I, or my current neighbors, would like. What I need is a new buddy to cut it for me. And I have found the perfect one. It’s a robot.
Robotic lawnmowers, sometimes known as autonomous mowers, are like Roombas for your lawn. Powered by battery, they use an invisible fence and sensors to stay within the confines of your yard and when they bump into something, such as a tree or a child’s toy, they simply bounce off and head another way. They also have lift sensors that immediately disable the blade if someone (your child, grandpa, a Yeti) picks it up. With most, you can control when and how often they leave their charging station to cut, but they usually get the job done gradually, cutting just a little bit at a time and redistributing the tiny clippings back to nourish the lawn. Because they’re battery-powered, they’re quiet enough to do their work at night and they’re water-resistant so they can even cut in a downpour.
Robotic mowers are gaining popularity here in the U.S., but they already own a sizable share of the mower market in Europe. One reason for this is because lawn services are far less ubiquitous overseas. The rise in use here coincides with the willingness of lawn care providers to work with your robot.
“We’ll install and maintain a robotic mower for you,” says Bart Lomont, Founder and CEO of Robin, a lawn care provider in Dallas, TX. “Our robots keep your lawn freshly mowed while our professional landscaping crews handle the edging, trimming, weeding, fertilizing and whatever else is needed to keep your yard looking its best.
You don’t have to use a service to maintain your robot, of course. You can buy and install your own. There are a number of manufacturers offering different levels of mowers. Husqvarna and Robomow are two of the largest players. Robomow sells an entry-level mower in the $500 range and they both sell higher-end products for more than $3000.
As with any technology, robotic mowers’ purpose is to make our lives easier. And if they can keep my lawn looking great and me in my neighbors’ good graces, that mission will definitely be accomplished.