“The robots are coming!” That increasingly-common battle cry seems to freak some people out. Us? We say, “Cool! Bring ‘em on— more time in the hammock!” And so it is with robotic lawn mowers.
Robotic lawn mowers are available in a bewildering array of styles and kinds and with very different strengths and weaknesses. Some are specialised for very large lawns while others are better for small ones, some cut in orderly lines or ‘U’s while others take off in random directions, some are safety-conscious as they will stop their blades if they detect interference while others are ‘self-conscious’ and will scuttle out of the rain. Most use laid-down boundary wires to ‘understand’ where their remit ends and some can be controlled using an integrated panel or using tablets and iPhones.
These outdoor robots also have other, unexpected, benefits. Powered lawnmowers are notorious for serious accidents or injuries that they not only are a source of but, even directly cause; injuries sometimes so severe that the victim has to be taken to the emergency room.
On the other end of the spectrum, though robot-caused injuries make the news, robotic lawnmowers do not get the credit they deserve for their injury-prevention ‘smarts,’ design, and operation. First, their blades protrude only slightly from the body and are entirely covered and surrounded by the housing so they are not exposed. Secondly, as soon as the robot detects any attempt to lift it or tilt it upwards, it immediately shuts off.
Another benefit of robotic lawnmowers is continual trimming. With conventional mowing, your lawn goes from being overgrown or even unkempt one day to being shorn to a crew-cut the next. Robotic lawnmowers, however, can run near continously and trim only tiny bits off grass blades. Therefore, your lawn never gets overgrown nor does it suddenly become overly-cropped. It is continually maintained to an ideal length or ‘cut.’ Moreover, because the trimmed grass blades are so teeny in size and limited in quantity, they can be, and are, just left where they fall on the lawn, scattered and invisible. As organic material, these minute grass clippings turn into natural mulch and recycle – another benefit.
The main drawback to robotic lawn mowers is that you need an electrical outlet within reach of wherever you want to place your charging station and sophisticated ones may need WiFi coverage throughout your lawn.
The primary chore is that you have to lay boundary wire to surround the extent of your lawn and exclude areas off-limits to the robots. However, this chore too is a one-time effort. Be aware that the more time you spend early on in learning the ‘robotic’ ropes, laying the wire with care and precision, and solving garden trouble spots where your robotic lawn mower gets stuck or confused, the more genuinely automated your lawn-mowing will become.
Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API
Some kits provide protective features such as charging station pairing and security alarms, other kits concentrate on safety features, still other makers focus on programmability . . . you get the picture. But no matter which type of robotic lawn mower you buy, this one-time investment pays for itself by automating lawn maintenance and eliminating effort and per-mow costs.
Utilising leading-edge technology but in no way bleeding-edge, Worx’s kit is in a class of its own; not only does it have many strengths, it is customisable.
Worx’s Landroid S300 runs on a 20-volt 2 Ah Li-lon battery. The ’S300’ identifier in the model name signifies ‘Small’ and 300 square metres which is the garden size this mower is meant for. Essentially the same machine is available in Medium for 700 square metres and Large covering 1,500 square metres, respectively labelled M700 and L1500.
This mower has a cutting width of 18 centimetres and cutting heights of 3, 4, and 5 centimetres. It can handle an incline of up to 15 degrees – 27 percent.
The Landroid is indeed ‘agile and faster,’ as claimed, and its AIA technology-guided traversals and turns are ‘intelligent’ compared to the random paths taken by other mowers. It does not mow aimlessly and relative to other mowers there is less confused manoeuvring at borders.
Worx’s mower incorporates machine learning; this allows it to figure out and adapt to a lawn’s shape and size, and even adjust its mowing cycles to the grass’s rate of growth.
The Landroid boasts one of the better on-board readouts and keypads. You can use it to schedule start/stop times, reset it, enter the PIN, etc. But it’s nothing compared to the programmable iOS/Android app. First, though, getting the app to recognise and connect to your mower is a confusing, hit-or-miss affair. However, the app is an advanced one and allows you to control your Landroid in Liverpool from a beach in Bermuda. You can set start/stop times, toggle rain-detection, set rain delays, toggle manual edging, and start, pause, and stop mowing.
Mowing is virtually noise-free.
If a lawn edge is bounded by a wall or any upturned boundary (as opposed to a level boundary like pavers or a pathway), the Landroid cannot cut to the edge and a strimmer will be required.
The charging elements on the charging station are exposed to the elements so you may want to consider a little shelter for it.
Of solid build quality all over, the Landroid has just about the best grips – almost sprocket-like – on its tyres.
This robot mower will not only have your lawn looking as pretty as a picture, it does so very efficiently.
Worx’s Landroid is a customisable, ‘build as you go,’ robot. Available add-ons include an Anti-Collision System (ACS), Voice Control, ‘Find My Landroid’ (i.e. GPS tracking), Radio Link (to extend WiFi range), and ‘Off Limits’ (defining areas for the Landroid to exclude).
It comes with a battery pack, a charger, the charging station along with its nails, 9 blades and their screws, 100 metres of boundary wire, 130 staples, 2 measurement gauges and a hex key. Annoyingly, a hard copy of the manual is not included; you’ll have to read it online or, preferably, download it and print it.
Worx provides a two-year warranty extendable to three years if you register the purchase within 30 days.
- It mows comparatively intelligently rather than randomly, and incorporates ‘machine learning.’
- The programmable iOS/Android app is one of the best such softwares.
- Customisable: it can be enhanced with add-ons to suit your particular needs.
- Getting the app to recognize and connect to your mower can be a headache.
- Cannot cut to edge if the lawn’s edge abuts a wall or other upright structure.
The U.K.’s most-popular robotic mower, the Flymo is a can’t-miss buy with its simple but proven technology in a hard-working kit at a budget-friendly price.
Powered by an 18-volt 1.6 Ah Li-ion battery, Flymo’s 1200R is designed for lawns of about 400 square metres. It is the U.K.’s most popular and biggest-selling robotic lawn mower.
It has a cutting width of 17 centimetres and a cutting height variable from 2 to 5 centimetres which is settable by a large knob. It can handle an incline of up to 14 degrees – 25 percent. It tackles slopes very well, up to and even a touch over the specified 25 percent.
Flymo is a brand of Husqvarna, makers of famous motorcycles and well-reputed chainsaws, and also pioneers in robotic lawn mowers.
This robotic lawnmower has an ‘irregular’ ‘navigation system.’ What this means is that it mows a lawn by taking random paths.
If a garden is bumpy and a short mowing height is selected, the Flymo may not go over the bump but will reverse and go off in another direction – no problem, just funny to watch.
However, it cannot cut to edge those parts of your lawn that are bounded by a fence or wall which means that you’ll need to strim strips of about 10 centimetres of all such border grass.
The boundary wire needs to be under a thin layer of soil otherwise the Flymo will almost surely cut it – and stop running.
You can set your mowing schedule; however, the Flymo is unalterably programmed (in its firmware) to operate for a maximum of 12 hours per day.
This PIN-protected kit has different security settings and a lift sensor. Upon being lifted just slightly it will shut off and sound an alarm. It also has a sensitive collision sensor.
Husqvarna says that their Flymo robotic lawnmower is designed to operate through rain but that is probably putting a positive spin on its inability to detect rain. Wait, here’s what they say inside the manual: “It is recommended to let the robotic lawnmower to mainly mow in dry weather to obtain the best possible result.” Aha! Overuse, when your lawn is damp or wet, will cause bald patches and flattening of the grass.
Its noise level of 58 dB is near around normal conversation but that is if it’s right beside you; from a distance you will barely hear it. Really, its soft sound is hardly noticeable.
If you put in the hard yards early and do all the fine-tuning that is entailed, you’ll be rewarded with top-class mowing capability culminating in your grass looking like a professionally-maintained lawn within days.
Besides the charging station, the Flymo 1200R comes with 150 metres of boundary wire, 200 pegs, and a manual.
Flymo provides a one-year warranty.
- Once all set, this sporting, hardy robot is ‘low maintenance.’
- So much friendly robot for so little dough makes it a super value for money.
- It’s not the U.K.’s most-popular and biggest-selling robotic lawn mower for nothing.
- Cannot cut to edge if the lawn’s edge abuts a wall or other upright structure.
- But it will cut exposed boundary wire, edge or not.
McCulloch’s ROB does not let thick growth or tricky ground deter it, it is more tuneable than others, and for larger gardens it’s the best value for money.
The McCulloch ROB 1000 is designed for gardens of about 1,000 square metres. It runs on an 18-volt 2 Ah Li-ion battery. McCulloch’s ROB series ‘R’ is also available in a ‘600’ model suitable for gardens of up to 600 square metres.
It has a cutting width of 17 centimetres and a cutting height adjustable from 2 to 5 centimetres. It is rated to handle inclines up to 25 per cent which it does with ease.
McCulloch is a subsidiary of – once again – Husqvarna, makers of famous motorcycles and well-reputed chainsaws, and also pioneers in robotic lawn mowers.
The ROB is programmable via the keypad and readout whose designs are quite a throwback – the proverbial ‘blast from the past.’ It enables you to set and enter the PIN, select the security system setting, and schedule cutting times. It operates for around 60 minutes and then heads to the docking station to reinvigorate itself for about 60 minutes, sometimes more.
If it is lifted, an alarm will sound. On the highest setting the alarm is very loud and shrill.
Traversing your lawn in random directions, it gives the grass a continual gentle trim. It cannot cut to edge those parts of your lawn that are bounded by a fence or wall which means that you’ll need to strim strips of about 10 centimetres of all such lawn borders. However, you can programme ROB with the length that it should go over the boundary wire, up to 30 centimetres. This feature would enhance the possibility of cutting to edge as long as the lawn’s edge does not abut an upright structure. This tuneability also gives you flexibility in extending your lawn without having to reposition the wire.
Being waterproof it will continue working during a shower. It has no rain or moisture sensor and, therefore, is marketed as carrying on with its job come rain or come shine. That said, this one is a hard worker.
If the cutting blades touch any resistant object, they will stop and retract.
This tank of a kit has no problem going through dense, overgrown grass on seriously undulating ground.
It is very quiet; a short distance from it you’d say it has virtually silent operation.
The manual is clear, thorough, and simply excellent.
Within a couple of weeks, ROB makes a putting green out of a backyard of straggly grass.
ROB 1000 is not overly expensive and its square-metres-per-pound ratio make it the best deal for those who have large lawns.
It comes with the charging station, 200 metres of boundary wire, 400 staples, and 3 metal cutting blades.
McCulloch provides a two-year warranty.
- Tough robot is especially good in dealing with patches of thick grass, slopes, undulations.
- The distance that it keeps from the boundary wire is adjustable, providing flexibility.
- Proportionally it covers a lot of green lawn for only a little green stuff – excellent value.
- Cannot cut to edge if the lawn’s edge abuts a wall or other upright structure.
- The keypad and readout are throwbacks to an earlier age – VCRs, anyone?
Though expensive and maybe overpriced, Sileno City has great features such as high mowing time per charge, extra sensors, and best ‘all terrain’ capability.
Gardena, big on the Continent but not as well-known in the U.K. as some other manufacturers, makes Sileno brand lawnmowers. Sileno City 250 is suitable for ‘city’ lawns of up to 250 square metres. The series includes another model suitable for lawns up to 500 square metres. The companion Sileno Life series’s models are meant for larger areas of up to 750 and up to 1000 square metres.
Gardena is a division of Husqvarna – yes, you’ve read it before – makers of famous motorcycles and well-reputed chainsaws, and also pioneers in robotic lawn mowers.
It has a cutting width of 16 centimetres, and the cutting height is adjustable between 2 and 5 centimetres. The maximum incline it can tackle is 25 percent.
This robotic lawnmower, which is meant for up to 250 square metres, is powered by an 18-volt 2.1 Ah Li-ion battery. Its amperage-hour per square-metre as a ratio is not even approached, let alone matched, by other kits. That’s why it is rated to mow for about 65 minutes and charge for about 60 minutes, and often does even better.
Like most robotic lawnmowers it does the job by going hither and thither in random directions over your lawn. Its ability to cover uneven, sloping, and bumpy ground and navigate obstacles is a cut above other robotic lawnmowers; on this criterion, it may be best-in-class. It is quite good at navigating narrow passages (not less than 60 centimetres).
It has collision and lift sensors, and also a tilt sensor the triggering of which immediately stops the blades. However, it lacks a moisture or rain sensor so it is proudly designated as going about its business ‘even when it is raining.’ Interestingly, it has a frost sensor to suspend mowing when temperatures hover near freezing. Its ‘SensorControl’ automatically adjusts the mowing time based on the rate of grass growth.
The Sileno has a sharp LCD and keypad into which you can set up your PIN and programme start and stop times, etc. Moreover, its ‘programming assistant’ is also above par. The app, on the other hand, is very basic and not of much use, having what are essentially ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’ commands.
With a noise level of 58 dB(A), the Sileno is very quiet.
Sileno City is rather an expensive robotic lawnmower and, on a square-metres-per-pound calculation, it is one of the most expensive and may be comparatively overpriced.
It comes with, besides the charging station, 150 metres of boundary wire, 200 hooks, 4 couplers, and 5 connectors.
- Highest mowing time per charge, thanks to the amperage-hour to square-metres ratio.
- Excellent at traversing sloping, uneven, and bumpy ground.
- Besides the usual sensors (i.e. collision and lift) it also has tilt and frost sensors.
- Though it comes with an ‘app,’ the app is essentially useless.
- Rather expensive, and compared to the competition it may be overpriced.
So demanding and fussy that it may have you tearing your hair out, the Indego is not for everyone but those with time to spare could be well rewarded.
Bosch Indego S+ 350 is meant for lawns up to 350 square metres and it will handle up to three lawns if their combined area is no more than 350 square metres. It has a cutting width of 19 centimetres and adjustable cutting heights ranging from 3 to 5 centimetres. It is rated as being good for gradients of 27 percent, and, in fact, deals very well with them as long as they are within the boundary. If the boundary wire runs along a slope, the Indego may overshoot it and report itself as ‘lost.’
It runs on an 18-volt 2.5 Ah Li-Ion battery; 45 minutes on, 45 minutes off.
Bosch’s ‘Smart Gardening’ is quite a good app on top of which you can take things to another level by hooking up the Indego with an Alexa device so you can just tell it what to do. Communication is over the cellular network and/or WiFi.
It detects the local weather primarily to avoid rain. In general, this is a good thing as lawns should not be mown when wet. However, in wet and rainy climates sometimes you have no choice but to cut damp grass . . . but the Indego just won’t!
The charging station has to be perfectly level and set up to a ’T’ in all other respects – or else. Unlike other robotic lawn mowers, Bosch’s kit is very demanding and unforgiving.
Bosch’s ‘intelligent LogiCut navigation’ controls the lawnmower so that it mows systematically and not in random directions. It won’t go over the same patches again and again while neglecting other areas. However, what it usually does is that after doing almost the whole lawn it ‘thinks’ that it has mowed the whole lawn and retires for the day, leaving some or another patch unmowed.
Touted as having the AI to avoid obstacles and being so smart as to manoeuvre around them, Bosch’s Indego routinely gets ‘stuck’ – with nary an obstacle to be stuck at nor a hole to be stuck in! It does this a little too frequently and you have to keep entering your PIN again and again to reset it. And there are no numbers and no keypad – only up and down arrows!
The Indego has more than its fair share of glitches. However, if you surmount the frustrations and convince the Indego to do its duty, your lawn will have that lovely striped look, like a first-class football pitch.
In sum, you will probably end up happy if you have a flat and level lawn that is reasonably well-maintained to begin with; on the other hand, the more slopes, holes, and bumps your grass has, the less you should consider this model.
In terms of reliable, fuss-free robotic lawnmowing, the unpredictable Indego is definitely outperformed by the other kits in this set of reviews.
Where Indego stands apart is in pushing other boundaries of technology, notably control via Alexa voice commands for those who want to tell the robot what to do, and, more practically, intelligent mowing of unmowed parts of the lawn.
Besides the charging station, it comes with screws and a hex key for fastening the station, power supply unit, 100 metres of boundary wire, 140 pegs/staples, and 2 wire connectors.
- Intelligently mows the lawn – or at least tries to – by going over only unmowed parts and not redoing already mowed sections.
- Can be paired with an Alexa device and given voice commands.
- Able to create lawn striping.
- Very demanding and fussy about the charging station being perfectly level and aligned.
- Constantly gets ‘stuck’ at imaginary obstacles and imaginary holes.
- No bumps, holes, whatnot – all said, this is a ‘high maintenance’ robot.
How Well Do Robotic Lawn Mowers Work?
While in no way making a sales pitch, it has to be said that most robotic lawn mowers on the whole work wonderfully well provided your lawn is not some highly-irregular shape, does not have many ‘islands,’ and is not cratered. What’s ‘on’ you is to lay the boundary wire, do a few test runs, iron out the kinks, and then peg down or slightly sink the boundary wire.
You need to ‘work with’ your robotic lawn mower to make your lawn traversable to it and remove or redo confusing objects or areas. Once this ‘groundwork’ is done, a good kit will not only bring an end to manual mowing, it will keep your lawn in a permanent state of, let’s say, High Manicure – and you in High Leisure.
How Does A Robot Lawn Mower Work?
All robotic lawn mowers do their mowing by trimming the grass rather than cutting it, clipping teeny little bits of grass per mow, and doing so every two or three days. The length to which it trims is adjustable but because of the continual mowing, the length it cuts off is always extremely small. The mowing schedule is also adjustable.
Most robotic lawn mowers work by detecting a boundary wire that tells them the extents of the area to mow. The very low electromagnetic field produced by these wires lets the robots ‘see’ their boundaries. They either stay within the boundary wire, straddle it, or go 10 or so centimetres beyond it if programmed to do so.
Where robotic lawn mowers differ is in how they traverse and cover the lawn. Most homeowner kits roam about the lawn in random directions, choosing a new direction upon reaching a boundary or bumping into some object or obstacle. Others try to move along in lines, straight or slightly curved, working their way from the exterior of the lawn toward the interior. Still, others divide the lawn into small sub-sections – patches – and manoeuvre themselves within a patch to finish it, and then move on to the next sub-section.