Solar-Powered Robotic Automower

Husqvarna has recently introduced a new model of a robotic lawnmower. The new model, named Automower, promises to mow your lawn automatically while using minimum energy resources by using solar power. Many homeowners who retain large gardens could benefit from the Automower, especially those concerned of the environment.
Traditionally, lawn mowing involves walking in monotonous straight lines with the filthy emissions of a two-stroke engine in the user’s face accompanied by a tractor-like noise. However, Husqvarna’s new Automower, launched at the Green Industry and Equipment Expo 2008, offers a solar-powered, zero-emission experience. The promised result is shorter lawn clippings that decompose faster and provide a natural fertilizer, improving the looks of private yards.
The usage of the new lawnmower requires several preliminary actions. The user must install a low slying or buried wire perimeters in order to set the boundaries of the lawn. The Automower’s on-board navigation system monitors its position relative to the wire, keeping it in the area to be mowed. Because the grass is cut frequently and finely, the cuttings decompose rapidly into mulch that the unit can disperse on future cuts.
This innovative lawn-mowing robot uses an irregular pattern of movement, long battery life, and high ground speed to effectively mow all parts of the lawn, and it has an interesting way to handle obstacles: if the object is rigid and at least six inches tall, like trees or fences, the mower gently bumps into it, reverses, and starts off in another direction; other areas, like a flowerbed, are excluded from the cutting area by using the perimeter wire.
The main highlight of Automower is its zero-emission operation; the unit gets its energy from the sun by using solar panels located on its upper part. An obvious drawback to this strategy  is the need for a sunny day in order to recharge; Husqvarna promises that 10 hours of solar charging is sufficient for cutting a quarter of an acre. Like many other robotic lawnmowers, when the mower is running low on power it automatically moves towards its charging station which acts as a backup for the solar panels on the robot. An interesting option which Husqvarna’s engineers could consider for future models is attaching larger solar panels to the base station which could increase the robot’s solar power production. Another existing advantage of the Automower over many conventional mowers is its low noise level. While many mowers reach an ear deafening noise of about 100dB, the Automower is significantly quieter, reaching only about 63dB.
The Automower weighs less than 20lbs which should make it easier to turn it upside down in case of a malfunction. The robot also includes a 4-digit pin code lock feature, which is required to operate thes mower. Its blades are lightweight and out-of-reach, and when it’s lifted off ground, it shuts off automatically. One of the biggest drawbacks of the robot lawnmower is its high price of £2,000 which might deter many potential buyers.
TFOT has also covered the kitchen-cleaning robot, created by the California-based Readybot Challenge; we have also covered the Catchbot, a robot that might be able to play baseball, and Toyota’s Violin-Playing Robot, designed back in 2007.
For more information about the Automower, see Husqvarna’s press release.

Image: CES 2009 image of the Solar-Powered Robotic Automower.