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Husqvarna Automower

A lawn, comes with responsibilities. First and foremost, mowing it. At this time of year, it can even be weekly that the garden needs a trim. The era of using grass-cutting as a means of exercise seems to be at an end, as legendary Swedish garden-equipment maker Husqvarna has created a robot who is willing to do the heavy work for you.

The mower when unpacked, is similar in size to a traditional push mower, but a little chunkier. Packed with the mower is an installation kit and a docking station which requires mains power. The perimeter wire packed with the mower needs to be laid in your garden to coral the mower in. Ideally, it should be installed just at the edge of the garden. The wire can be laid around any major obstacles, for instance fixed garden swings or water features.

I had the boundary cable laid in less than an hour. Ideally it should be buried just below the surface, not at the edge, but about a foot inside it, to prevent the mower edging over in to flower beds or falling in to a ditch. As I was testing the mower, I pinned the cable down firmly to the lawn’s surface using some plastic pins. After making sure the cable was taut it appeared to be as effective as burying the cable.

I tested two versions of the mower. The entry level mower has a small screen that you use to program the timer and set the mower working. The more advanced models are compatible with a smartphone app that gives you control from your smartphone, from anywhere.

With the boundary wire and charging station installed it was time to get mowing.The Autmower cuts the grass in a random pattern that over time makes for an even looking cut. The mower is designed to cut the grass more often than I usually would. This means the cut grass is only a few millimeters in length and falls away acting as a fertisiser for the lawn.

I’d left the mowers packaging box on the lawn while I installed it. During the first test run the mower drove slowly in to it as it mowed then stopped, reversed and changed direction to avoid it. It’s reassuring to know that if you leave a watering can or something like a kids bike on the lawn, it seems neither will come to grief thanks to the object detection built in to the Automower

Another clever safety feature is that as soon as the mower is lifted, the blades stop.  A feature that allowed me to change the direction deliberately and would be useful if something was stuck under the mower, illustrating that safety appears to be foremost in Husqvarna’s design.

If you do have a busy garden, with children or pets during the daytime,  the scheduling feature is the best way to address cutting the lawn. I scheduled the mower to cut during the night, and of course the lack of daylight makes no difference to the mower’s performance.

The mower has an automatic charging feature which means the mower will find its own way back to its charging station for a recharge. When it was sufficiently charged, with half my lawn un-mowed, it undocked itself and got stuck in again until it had finished the job.

The Automower Connect app connects via Bluetooth to an Android or iOS phone. Once you’ve paired your mower, you can control the mower from the kitchen table, or from anywhere in the world you have a mobile or wifi signal.

The app displays a map of the garden perimeter and it also shows you the status of the mower, letting you know if it’s mowing or parked. There’s a timer mode on the app where you can set the mowing frequency and time of day when you want the grass cut and you can set the cutting height of the mower from the app.

Another useful feature on the app is the Weather Timer. When this is enabled, the mowing times are adjusted depending on how quickly the grass is growing. This means that the Automower will cut more after rain when there are growth spurts in the garden.

It would be a really useful addition if even the entry-level Automower was app enabled, rather than having to purchase an upgrade. If Husqvarna did this, the only need to move up through the range and buy a more expensive mower would be for people with large gardens.

More info: www.husqvarna.com

Written by

Andy O'Donoghue talks about technology, some say, too much.

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