Weekends Are Mine Again, Lawn Looks Great: How Robot Lawn Mowers Changed My Life – CNET

I enjoy a well-manicured lawn as much as the next person, but that takes more time than I’m willing to put into it. Mainly because I have a nearly three-acre lawn, and it takes about two and a half hours to mow it — in a rush. But thanks to robot lawn mowers, I don’t have to spend that time mowing, and the grass looks far better than if I’d cut it myself.

Nearly two years ago when I tested my first robot lawn mower, the Husqvarna Automower 430XH, I gained the power to control time and still get a beautiful lawn.

OK, I don’t really control time, but the robot lawn mower takes on one of my biggest weekly chores and gives my family and me more time together. While the Husqvarna Automower 430XH opened my eyes to what a robot mower can offer in terms of getting time back, I’ve since tested more-advanced autonomous models with important new features, such as GPS guidance.

The result? A beautifully manicured — not just cut — lawn and even more time to spend on summer fun. 

If you’re curious about adding a robot lawn mower to your yard and outdoor arsenal, here’s my experience with two new robot mowers, the Segway Navimow i110N ($1,299) and Mammotion Luba 2 AWD ($4,099), and why they’ve become my secret weapon for a perfect summer.

I started with a non-GPS robot mower and it was frustrating

The Mammotion LUBA 2 AWD 10000H on the grass, from the front.

The Mammotion Luba 2 AWD 10000H is ruggedly built and highly capable of handling lawns of all types.

Chris Wedel/CNET

Husqvarna offers more advanced options than the Automower 430XH, which was my first foray into robot lawn care. Now it resembles a more budget-friendly robot vacuum cleaner

Like less advanced robot vacs that don’t have modern lidar (a kind of laser mapping), the Automower 430XH was without GPS guidance and mapping and required a physical boundary wire to be installed. This wire acts as a virtual wall for the mower to “bounce” off and helps it find its charging base. While this eventually gets the job done, the mower would frequently get stuck on objects, mow over items my kids left in the yard or get lost trying to find its way home. 

Segway Navimow 110i on grass, from the side. Segway Navimow 110i on grass, from the side.

While the Segway Navimow 110i is small, it is mighty and capable of cutting a nice lawn.

Chris Wedel/CNET

Not only did the randomness leave strange mowing paths in my yard, but it also left my yard uneven. While this may sound like complaining, I’m still happy that I wasn’t the one doing the mowing. It also means I’m much happier now, because, like with robot vacuums, there have been a lot of advancements and new players in the robot lawn mower category.

The best thing about modern robot lawn mowers is the integration of GPS technology allowing mowers to deftly handle an entire lawn with almost no effort required from me, both in the initial setup and during mowing sessions. Aside from the time I save by not mowing the yard myself, the amount of time required to get started with the mowers is dramatically less than those that need a boundary wire. 

GPS guidance makes robot lawn mowers a joy to use

These improvements include annoying boundary wires being replaced by GPS-guided mowing as well as advanced object recognition, improved efficiency and, in the end, a better-looking lawn for less work. Two robot mowers I’m currently testing are the Segway Navimow i110N and the Mammotion Luba 2 AWD 10000H. Both have strengths and weaknesses and are nowhere near perfect, but they have become essential tools in my lawn care and lifestyle.

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Segway’s Navimow is great for smaller lawns

The $1,300 Segway Navimow‘s navigation is limited to a quarter-acre of mowing, thanks to some onboard storage limitations. This isn’t much of my 5 acres of rural property. I found the perfect part of my lawn for it, and after driving it around like an oversized, very slow RC car using my OnePlus Open phone as the remote. I set up a mowing schedule, and the Segway robot mower does the rest. This Navimow saves me about 30-45 minutes of mowing twice weekly.

Mammotion Luba 2 can handle 2.5 acres of yard

closeup of a robot lawn mower on grass closeup of a robot lawn mower on grass

The Mammotion Luba 2 AWD 10000H has so many features that allow it to handle lawns of all types.

Chris Wedel/CNET

This means the rest of my regained time has come from the Mammotion Luba 2 AWD 10000H. This particular model can handle up to 2.5 acres. Again, no wires are needed, and while slower than an RC car, the Luba 2 AWD can move up to a surprisingly fast 4 feet per second. The AWD portion of the name means this robot mower has all-wheel drive, helping it to handle more demanding lawns. Mammotion’s mower has two mowing decks, compared to Navimow’s single deck, can cut from 4 inches down to 2.2, and has far more customization controls. This souped-up model will cost you more than $4K.

Handsfree, perfect lawn

a wide featureless lawn with trees in the distance a wide featureless lawn with trees in the distance

My yard has never had such a professional look.

Chris Wedel/CNET

Perfectly manicured lawns with mowing stripes and checkerboard patterns aren’t very common for Kansas country homes, but I have it this spring. It’s not uncommon for friends of mine to call me a “high-tech redneck” with all my smart devices, and they may be right, but I don’t stress over getting my grass cut. I don’t have to work all day and then spend hours in the summer heat mowing my yard. I can have my weekends to go on family camping trips, ball games and more. 

Even high-end robot mowers have bad days

The Segway Navimow i110N and Mammotion Luba 2 AWD 10000H both have quirks and occasionally need human interaction to keep going. Sometimes a stick will get caught in the wheel or mower deck, so the mower stops and I have to remove it. Sometimes the mowers will forget how to get back to the charger or will get high-centered on a clump of grass and need to be physically moved. These issues are not mechanical and have never required more than a few minutes to clear up. 

Regardless of whether you are considering a smaller, entry-level robot lawn mower to tend to your yard or a more advanced model, there are some factors you’ll want to consider before purchasing to ensure you have the best possible experience.

Robot lawn mowers are becoming increasingly common. As technology improves — namely, advanced GPS guidance — and prices decline, it’s as good a time as ever to splurge on one. They are a splurge, ranging anywhere from $600 to well over $5,000. Do I still enjoy mowing the lawn? Sure, but only when I want to, not because I have to.

Watch this: How to Prep Your Lawn Mower for the Season

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This post was originally published on Cnet

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