Landscapers and homeowners across the nation spend their afternoons mowing their lawns. As technology continues to advance, that labor intensive task could be a thing of the past, as autonomous robotic lawn mowers become more advanced and easier to use.
At the recent 2019 GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Kentucky, multiple manufacturers had a a mix of residential and commercial robotic mowers on display. Among the residential models was the WORX Landroid.
Robotic lawn mowers are powered, in most cases, by a rechargeable battery. The WORX robotic mowers operate on the company’s Power Share batteries, which work on all WORX tools and equipment. When the battery is drained, the mower is programmed to return to its charger station.
“I think our differentiator would be that Power Share platform,” says Pete Denley, senior product manager at WORX. “You can use that battery on any of the tools. We also have handheld power tool saws and oscillating tools and drills that are sharing the same battery platform.”
The WORX Landroids can be controlled and programmed by the dials and switches on the units, or with a smartphone app. This year’s Landroids can also be equipped with a GPS unit to communicate with the app. Both the WR140 and WR150 come equipped with rain sensors that send the mower back to its charger station during bad weather.
“Everything you can do on the mower you can do on the app itself, which does have a little more seamless process as far as creating a schedule. You can create an auto-schedule based on your lawn size,” he says. “If you’re not entirely sure how long you need it to run for, you can increase or decrease the time.”
Depending on the availability of wireless internet, the mower will send the user various notifications. The mower can also be tracked if stolen.
To get a robotic mower up and running, a wire is installed along the perimeter of the property, to keep the mower from leaving the lawn. Perimeter wire is also typically installed around flower beds and other fragile lawn ornaments. The WORX mowers also come with magnetic tape to create temporary boundaries around various items in the yard, such as an inflatable pool.
“The installation process takes, depending on your yard and how complicated it is, anywhere between three to four hours,” Denley says. “That involves installing a boundary wire that you place around the perimeter of your lawn to create that cutting area for it.”
To keep from colliding with trees and other objects, robotic mowers are equipped with sensors to detect objects in their path.
The sensors on the Landroids give the appearance of eyes, which product developers at WORX refer to as “frog eyes.”
“The way this model is differentiated from some of the other robotic mowers that are out there is that it has modularity built into it, meaning there are different options for accessories that pair with the mower to build the individual customer experience,” says Thales Marques, associate product manager at Worx. “For example, the eyes that sit on top of the mower, that’s the anti-collision system. Typically, the mower, if it runs into an obstacle like a tree and it bumps into it turns around and keeps mowing. With those frog eyes, it has super sensors that it sends out in front of it that causes it to avoid the obstacle.”
Instead of being pushed along straight lines by a human, a robotic mower travels in random patterns across the grass.
“Sometimes it will kind of leave lines in your yard the first week or so that it’s running,” Marques says. “But typically, in my experience, and most customers’ experience who have had it running for a while, noticed that those lines go away and they create a carpeting effect.”
The unit mows every day, so the lawn always looks freshly mowed.
“Rather than going out once a week and mowing your grass from tall to the desired height, it keeps it maintained, nice and trim,” he says. “Your grass always looks like it’s freshly mowed, because it is.”