You Should Share a Robot Lawn Mower With Your Neighbors

You Should Share a Robot Lawn Mower With Your Neighbors

If you’re looking to meet people in your neighborhood, buy a robot lawn mower. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been amazed at the traffic generated by using my Mammotion Luba 2. People stop to watch it work, they bring their kids by, and cars have slowed down, backed up, and then pulled over to observe. But the best outcome I discovered by using a robot lawn mower is this: If you can share your robot lawn mower with your closest neighbors, what was a good value becomes a great one.

Robots don’t care about property lines

I live in the city on a street with reasonably sized residential lots of 3,000ish square feet, and almost every house on the block has a lawn. The lawns vary in size, but all are large enough to need a lawnmower, and many people on the block use a lawn service. Since our lots are small enough and the Mammotion Luba 2 is built to handle a lot more space, I found myself wondering if I could make the Luba think additional houses on the block were all part of the same map, and mow them, too. Spoiler: It works. The more houses a single robot can mow, the more value you’re getting from a robot lawnmower (and I generally feel they are a valuable buy, anyway). 

An interesting aspect of robot lawnmowers came from a conversation with the team at Husqvarna, who pointed out that robots aren’t great at perceived boundaries like property lines, which is why lots of lawnbots have needed buried wire to mark perimeters with precision. Now that most bots are wireless, we teach the bot where the boundary is by walking them around the perimeter the first time and mapping paths between the different areas. A single property can have multiple mapped areas, just like your home has many rooms for a robot vacuum to consider. Your next door neighbor’s lawn can be just another area, and you can map a pathway to it. Even the street itself is just another area for the robot to cross to get to another mapped area, just like a sidewalk or driveway. At a minimum, robot vacuums are a great way to keep a hellstrip (the narrow space between your sidewalk and street curb) mowed and looking uniform across many properties. 

Get permission and line of sight

Once I got permission from my neighbors to test this out, I parked the GPS tower for the Luba in a spot that gave line of sight for the two houses across the street and the house next door. Remember, you place that GPS tower with the mapped areas in mind, but if you plan to use it on multiple houses, that mapped area just expands, and you may need to consider a new location for the tower. 

Using the remote control, I walked the robot over to the new areas to map and continued adding mapped areas in each of the yards, naming them and making connection pathways between the mapped areas. So, my neighbor across the street had her yard mapped with pathways between the areas on her property, and then my next door neighbor had the same. I did not make a pathway between the homes, which I’ll explain in a moment. At some point, all four homes, two on each side of the street, were mapped, and once the robot was in those spaces, it mowed the areas as well as it would the main home it was mapped to. 

Safety concerns

While on a lawn, the safety of the robot isn’t really in question (the biggest threat is someone walking up and nabbing it). It also isn’t a major safety concern for people or pets while cutting the grass—it just moves too slow. But unattended in the street, it can get run over, and it’s more likely to encounter people and dogs on sidewalks. The bottom line is: The robot is safe on your lawn, but when you map a walkway and ask it to leave your lawn, it can engage with the rest of the world, which could be a liability, a risk to your investment, or just a hassle. A better way to handle it is to manually walk the robot over, using the remote, especially across a street.

Scheduling is key to success

Now that it’s all mapped, remember that multiple people probably won’t have access to the controls for the robot, because the association lives on one phone. With some robots, you can add additional users, and for others, I’m sure that’s coming. Until then, one solution is scheduling, which would mean that as long as the robot is in mapped area or there’s a walkway mapped to it, it will run a set scheduled mow. If there’s no walkway, you’d need to be responsible for walking the robot over, but it’s not more labor than taking the trash to the curb. A second solution is keeping a cheap tablet with the robot, with the app loaded, so that anyone who wants to use the robot can walk over, grab the tablet and use it to walk the robot to their property and mow and then return it. 

Robot lawn mowers range in price from about $US1,500 to $US5,000. The Mammotion Luba 2 we used for this experiment is $US2,899 and while I think that’s a reasonable price to pay for a robot lawnmower, it would be a lot less when shared with a few neighbors. You all agree to maintain the robot collectively and share in the expenses, such as new blades, as needed.

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