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Monday, October 27, 2008

Automatic Solar Powered Lawnmower

by John Laumer,


"Daddy the cat is didn't start the mower did you?" "Has anybody seen the automatic lawnmower?" Just one of many questions people will have about a solar powered lawnmower that toodles about the yard like an escaped Roomba vacuum. Husqvarna's website describes the product this way:

Being the worlds first fully automatic, robotic lawn mower, the Auto Mower is the ultimate user friendly mower. You don’t have to lift a finger to get a perfect lawn.

What they are forgetting is that lawn-mowing on the weekend is a male hominid ritual that will not easily change. Retired guys in the suburbs make sure they are seen cutting grass on Saturdays or that mowing is available as an excuse to miss church on Sunday (should it rain on Saturday). When it doesn't happen, friends call to see 'if everything is alright?'

No need to worry about kitty, though, according to the sales literature: Many Automower owners have pets – and this isn’t a problem. The animals get used to the Automower and it becomes like a member of the family.

Besides the quietude, I can see that there are multiple environmental benefits. No bagging: it's pure mulch mower. Reduced fugitive emissions. Owners can cancel their US$40/week landscaping contract, and count the savings against the capital and operating cost of the Automower Hybrid (said to be around $20.00/year in electricity). Wonder what the payback period would be in California?

Here's the real money for me: if enough people switch to Automowers, those big trucks lugging trailers full of lawn rigs will get off the roads, improving air quality. Gawd I hate those things in traffic.

See the basic setup and operational explanation below.

Before the Automower can get to work, you will need to simply staple a wire to the perimeter of the lawn. The wire will be overgrown and become invisible within a month. This wire can be sensed by the robotic mower and will ensure that only this area of grass is cut. The Automower will then work irregularly around the lawn – whatever its shape - until all parts have been covered. This gives the lawn an even result and a carpet-like finish. ‘Islands’ can be created by laying the wire around plants and flower beds. And if the mower hits any other obstacle, such as a tree or rock, it just reverses safely and selects a new direction before continuing.

The Automower comes with an automatic charging station. Once placed in a suitable position in the garden, this will keep its maintenance-free battery charged at all times. Besides the low running costs (around 12-25 dollars a year for the electricity consumed, depending on lawn size), the mower is so quiet that it won’t disturb your neighbours. And with no emissions, it is environmentally friendly.

There's no comparison to a reel mower. With this baby on autopilot you can go away for a two week trip and find you lawn perfectly kept. Try that with a reeler.

Via:Husqvarna. Image credit:Husqvarna website banner excerpt.