From smart TVs to a modular sofa that can be controlled by an app, home tech isn’t just something for the future, it’s in our homes now. New technologies aim to make our lives easier, safer, and—sometimes—a little bit cooler. It was only a matter of time before innovators tackled the next great frontier of irritating domestic chores: the yard.
Cordless electric robot mowers are like a Roomba for your yard, traveling around the grass with a set of sharp spinning blades. They run automatically on whatever schedule you’d like, day or night, and the clippings are left on the grass as extra fertilizer.
A low-voltage wire around the perimeter of your property creates an invisible fence that guides the robot and keeps it on track. Once you’ve marked out where you want your lawn robot to mow, the small machine runs on its own and makes your old, loud, stand-up mower obsolete.
Models like Honda’s Miimo—which just launched in the United States as years of trimming lawns in Europe—have a docking station that charges the unit when not in service. When the mowers bump into things like your kid’s bike, they stop, turn around, and head in a different direction. And whenever batteries run low (usually after 30-70 minutes of mowing), the robots return to their base to be charged.
Many of the different robotic lawn mowers have other helpful features: Adjustable cutting heights, built-in rain sensors, and apps that let you change settings and program the bot from your lounge chair. But there are some quirks to this new home tech that still need to be smoothed out.
At times the robots don’t mow as consistently as your regular lawn mower, and their erratic paths don’t produce the same grid patterns across the lawn. Few offer 100 percent coverage, often missing edges, and the machines have to run multiple times a week to keep the grass and clippings from getting unruly. There’s also the price, with robotic lawn mowers running into the thousands of dollars.
Here are three models currently on the market or available to buy soon:
As one of the more reasonably-priced autonomous lawn mowers, the Landroid is easy to set up right out of the box. It can handle inclines up to 20-degrees and uses a shock sensor system to mow around obstacles.
Robomow makes several well-reviewed autonomous lawn mowers, and the RC306 has lots of helpful features designed to cut lawns up to 8,000 square feet. A remote control option can cut small patches of grass that can’t be reached in automatic operation, and a rain sensor keeps the mower from running in wet conditions or high humidity.
The RC306 costs $1,299, but Robomow offers other models at varying price points.
Available in two models—the more expensive one has a bigger battery—the Honda Miimo has three programmable cutting modes and the ability to mow sloping lawns as steep as 25 degrees. The Miimo also comes with an anti-theft alarm when it’s lifted off the ground.
That’s smart because these little robots don’t come cheap; the HRM 310 will cost US$2,499 and the HRM 520 will cost $2,799 when they are both available in June from Honda Power Equipment dealers.