From factories to living rooms, robots are being deployed to perform a bewildering array of different tasks. But would you let one mow your lawn?
Swedish company Husqvarna believes that robotic mowing is the future.
“I believe automation and time savings will be synonymous in the future. As we move to a more data-oriented environment that relies on IOT [Internet of Things] devices and social networks, this will continue to play a vast role in our daily professional and personal lives.” Kevin Cooley, territory sales manager for Husqvarna, told Fox News.
The Husqvarna Automower is the latest evolution of a robotic lawnmower that was first developed by the company a quarter-century ago. Since 1995, it’s sold more than 1 million robotic mowers worldwide.
Even though they may remind you of a household Roomba, don’t compare them because these Automowers are vastly different and far more advanced, Husqvarna said.
“We [Husqvarna] use AI, GPS and cellular data connectivity along with other proprietary technologies to not only triangulate the best possible cut of your lawn but to minimize the risk of loss of product or danger to the environment or end-users,” Cooley stated.
The mower works inside of an electronic fence that’s created by a boundary wire connected to the charging station. Three blades cut the grass so finely that the clippings don’t need to be raked up and collected. The idea is to cut the grass early and often, rather than letting it grow too tall. This leads to healthier grass and a more perfect looking lawn, Husqvarna said.
It can operate day or night, rain or shine and is connected to a smartphone app that can control it and track it if it’s been stolen. If someone picks it up and removes it from the boundary area, the device disables itself, sounds an alarm and sends you an alert.
“Theft of a GPS equipped Automower is a non-issue as it can be tracked even when the unit is powered off. Through our software that the owner has, they can accurately locate a ‘missing’ unit within several meters.” Cooley said.
A pin code is needed to use the device and an alarm will sound if it is lifted. Husqvarna also notes the mower is useless when stolen as it can’t be matched with any other charging station. If it goes outside the geo-fence it will automatically send tracking data to your phone.
The Automower is being touted by Husqvarna as a game-changer for anyone who commutes or works odd hours, leaving very little time to keep up with their yard. But should the auto mower industry be afraid?
“These will become part of the mower industry, they are also changing the way the landscaping industry not only goes to market but how they approach both commercial and residential clients,” Cooley said. “No longer is a lawn going to miss its weekend cut for that backyard barbecue or a resort has a delay for a wedding due to foul weather preventing mowing. With the current and future workforce staffing and training challenges, the Automower will address these issues head-on by eliminating them.”
However, Phil Rigaglia, general manager of Wappingers Auto Tech & Power Equipment, told Fox News that he sees AI as a boost to the landscaping industry.
“Many landscaping companies can benefit from these robotic mowers, they can use these as commercial mowers - they install the mower on a property, let the mower do the work and collect money from the homeowner,” he said. “They lease the mower to their customer, this cuts down on men to pay for and increases profit. Automowers have improved our business and the industry in many ways.”
A number of high-profile figures, including Elon Musk, have warned about the broad impact of AI. Kai Fu Lee, a pioneer in AI, recently told “60 Minutes” that, within 15 years, 40 percent of the world’s jobs could be done by machines.
Fox News’ Christopher Carbone contributed to this article.