Outdoor-gear preview: Meet the Landroid 'unmanned' mower

Consumer Reports News: October 29, 2010 05:05 PM

Robotic mowers have been around even longer than the Roomba and other robotic vacuum cleaners. And as with robotic vacuums, Consumer Reports has found self-motivating mowers both pricey and persnickety as a group. But that hasn’t daunted Worx, which already markets electric push mowers. Its Landroid Unmanned Mowing Vehicle debuted this week at the annual Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo) in Louisville.

Robotic mowers we’ve tested work basically the same way. First comes an extensive setup that includes laying perimeter wire around the edges of your lawn. Then, according to a schedule, the mower leaves its charging station and crisscrosses randomly within its boundaries, reversing direction when it reaches the wire or an obstacle. Based on that schedule—or a drained battery—it returns to its station for recharging.
Easier setup is one change Worx promises (it calls setup “a breeze”). Working the Worx involves putting a DVD into a PC and following the set-up steps; there’s also an LED display on the unit itself. Once on the job, the Landroid works on slopes up to 20 degrees and uses three blades for mulching. Worx says the mower is ideal for lawns of about 1/3 acre.
Another big change that’s expected concerns price: Perhaps around $1,000 or so instead of the $2,000-plus typical for the breed. We’re hoping to get a Landroid for testing, mostly to see if the Worx works any better than earlier robotic mowers. Others Consumer Reports has tested, such as the Husqvarna Automower 220 AC, have cut unimpressively or resisted going back to their stations. One, the LawnBott LB3200 Evolution, had blades that continued spinning after we lifted the mower.
You’ll find the Landroid on the Worx website, which has a dealer locator.
—Ed Perratore

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