UPDATED 7/6/08! The RL850 RoboMower sells for $1389 TODAY ONLY with Free Shipping at Amazon! That's the LOWEST PRICE I'VE EVER SEEN, BUT WILL NOT LAST! Also available, the RL-1000 Robomower with Docking Station is $1824 SHIPPED! List is $1499 for the RL850 and $1999 for the RL1000. The RoboMower does pretty much everything you could want a robot mower to do: It's waterproof, programmable, auto-mulching (better for the health of the grass), environmentally friendly (relative to poison-belching gas mowers and particularly tractor versions), time-saving, and a conversation piece for your neighbors besides. Given that tractor mowers can cost far more, I'd say that's a fair deal. The alternative being paying the kid down the street $20 a week, or about $500 a year (and hoping he shows up on time and does a good job, etc.) And the devices are far safer than typical lawnmowers, which chew up limbs on a regular basis. Friendly Robotics, the company that makes the RoboMower, reports zero injuries to date because the robot automatically senses if it hits something or if it flips over, and the blades stop.
They work similar to a Roomba, following the lawn perimeter and then somewhat randomly filling in, avoiding obstacles. You install a perimeter wire to fence in the lawnmower. The robot automatically senses the wire and won't cross it.
Robomower is the most successful robotic lawnmower currently on the market. It's made by Friendly Robotics, a company founded in Israel by an engineer who decided to build a robot to mow his lawn on his wife's suggestion.
The potential for iRobot Corporation (IRBT) to make inroads into this market, and indeed expand it dramatically, seem obvious. Just like they did with the Roomba -- engineer a low-cost yet highly effective sub-$200 vacuum while other robot vacuums cost $1,500 -- they can own the market with a Mowba. Provided that they can deliver a product as good as the RoboMower for a price under, say, $699, they would have a big winner, IMO.
iRobot CEO Colin Angle has all but said the company is developing a robot mower.
I don't expect to see one until 2008 at the earliest.
Tags: robotic, lawnmower, RoboMower, robot, robots, robotic lawnmower, Friendly Robotics, Roomba, IRBT, iRobot,