Husqvarna Automower 450X $3,500

Swedish firm makes Roomba for your lawn

Sweden’s Husqvarna offers some of the more unusual “green” lawn mowers on the market: its Automower series. You have heard about the Roomba, the robotic vacuum that tools around your house cleaning your floors? Well, the Automowers are Roomba’s lawn-mowing equivalent.

Husqvarna offers four different models, ranging from $2,000 to $3,500, that differ in the size of lawn they will cut on a single charge. The Automowers run on two lithium-ion batteries that take about an hour to fully recharge. Once that’s done, the robot mowers will head out on their own and start cutting grass. They will run for as long as you want them to, up until they run out of power.

Each Automower looks something like a radio-controlled car. But under its body, each one has three rotating razor-sharp blades that can be adjusted to trim grass of various heights.

Part of the reason for their distinctive appearance is the mowers lack the standard handle, which owners use to steer. In order to prevent an Automower from going off the lawn, Husqvarna provides boundary wires that the robotic mower can detect and knows to avoid.

“The boundary wire is necessary,” said Steven Uljua, product manager for robotics and fleet services with Husqvarna in Charlotte, N.C. “We say the boundary wire makes the difference of having rosebushes and not having rosebushes.”

The Automowers also have a smartphone app that allows someone to program the robots and remotely adjust settings such as starting and stopping times. When their battery charge gets to around 20 percent of capacity, the robot mowers will turn off their blades and begin looking for their charging station.

“It can follow a boundary wire back to its charging station,” Uljua said. “If it starts cutting and then the weather goes bad, Automower will realize that and go back to its charging station. It will never mow outside the times you have given it. What’s most important is it does this by itself.”

Uljua said Husqvarna introduced the first version of Automower back in 1995, but only brought the mower to the U.S. last year, once the company mastered the connectivity between the robotic mowers and the app.

Uljua said Husqvarna sold between 1,500 and 1,800 Automowers in the U.S. in 2016, while global sales reached 250,000 units.