Back when I was just a little tacker and would watch my dad mowing the lawns, all we ever had was a banged up old gas mower that weighed a tonne (I know because I tried to push it when he wasn’t looking once or twice). Actually no, that’s not quite the truth – in the garden shed we even had an old manual reel mower! Now I feel old! Looking back on lawn mower technology of those days, and where it is today makes me wonder: what will lawn mowers be like in the future?
While I don’t have a crystal ball, I can use some logical thinking and common sense to take a few educated guesses. In this article, I will look at where lawn mower technology is heading. Bring on the future!
Modern Power Sources
Probably the most important part of any mower is the power source. After all, a mower is pretty useless without it hey? Even that old reel mower I mentioned had a power source, muscle power!
But what power sources might we see in the near future? Let’s take a look.
Solar power is nothing new, it’s been around in some form or another since 1876. But it is only in the last few decades where the technology has become a realistic alternative power source. The efficiency of modern solar cells has increased dramatically, and the cost per watt is always falling.
It is for these reasons that I believe we will see solar power being used more and more to power electric lawn mowers moving forward.
The Future of Battery Power
Going hand in hand with solar power is the speed at which battery technology is moving forward.
It wasn’t all that long ago that battery-powered lawn mowers were just a gimmick: they were drastically underpowered and you were lucky if you could get 15 minutes of battery life.
Jump forward to even today’s current mass-produced cordless lawn mowers and things are much different. Li-Ion batteries (lithium-ion) have catapulted these gas free mowers into the future and are now used by many households around the world.
If we look at the next generation of batteries currently being developed, then it is likely that the popularity of these cordless mowers will keep rising. Lithium-air batteries currently being developed (Li-air) hold over 40 times the charge of Li-ion batteries, but these batteries are still quite some time away from being ready for mass production. Battery types that we may see sooner include:
- Lithium-sulfur (li-s) batteries – have up to 3 times the energy density of Li-ion
- Sodium batteries – larger than Li-ion batteries but are cheaper to produce
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
Hydrogen fuel cell – sounds like something out of sci-fi hey? Well, it’s not really and it’s much closer than you think.
So what is a hydrogen fuel cell? In the simplest terms, a hydrogen fuel cell combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce heat, electricity and water – they are very similar to a battery, but they can keep producing power as long as hydrogen is supplied.
There have already been tech companies experimenting with hydrogen fuel cell powered mowers, so expect to see these mass produced in the next decade.
So aside from futuristic power sources, what else will change with the mower of the future?
Well, the most obvious change is the introduction of robotic mowers. Robotic vacuum cleaners have been around for years now and are a common site in many of our homes (my cat hates it!) and yes, robotic mowers are also already available – but I expect them to become a much more common sight.
I believe that the advancement of solar and battery technology will allow these hands-free mowers to become one of the most popular mowers available.
Fully Autonomous Mowing
These robotic mowers require little to no intervention to keep your lawns looking neat and tidy.
When the sun is out, these nifty machines will charge themselves by solar powers – and when there isn’t enough sun to keep them going, they will simply return to their docking station for a recharge from the mains power.
Using the sensors incorporated in the mowers chassis, they will automatically keep your lawn at your desired length and even avoid obstacles such as trees, garden ornaments and probably even dog poop!
And for those of you that want perfect mow lines in your lawn, I am predicting that the more advanced models of robotic lawn mowers will include GPS functionality that will keep your mow lines perfectly straight!
For the last point on robotic mowers, I am going to state the obvious – you will also have complete control of your robotic mower over Wifi. This will allow you to activate and deactivate the mower manually if you need to when the yard is being used by the family. But remember it’s the future – so it is likely that the mower will automatically sense that there are humans present in the yard and go and park itself somewhere out of the way.
The Future Is Almost Here
I already mentioned that I don’t have a magical crystal ball that tells me exactly what our mowers will look like or do in the future, but I think I have made some pretty good guesses here.
But when the time comes to replace that old gas mower in the shed, take the time to look into newer technologies. It will likely not only be better for the environment, but will also probably save you money in the long run.