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Threat of the Robotic Mower!

In Husqvarna's recent trade adverts they have been highlighting the opportunity to lawn care professionals such as LJN members of the commercial opportunities arising from the development of robotic mowing machines.  There is the installation of the wire for instance, they suggest renting mowers to home owners and the fact that robotic mowers can be used whilst the contractor gets on with other jobs such as weeding and pruning.

I may be being niave but I don't get it, if renting is to develop would this not be via established garden machinery suppliers approved Husqvarna agents?  Robotic mowers are quite slow at cutting so there would not be time on an average garden visit to bring along the robotic mower get it out of the van set if off and then quietly get on with weeding and pruning, the mower is unlikely to get the lawn mowed before it is time to get onto another job, would the customer pay much for this anyway is there any perceived added value?

Overtime I can see that robotic mowers will become quite well established but not necessarily at the expense of the private or commercial contractor to any significant extent, no more than artificial grass, or the DiY mower.  But I am struggling to see where the viable commercial opportunities are with robotic mowers going forward, has anyone else got any thoughts on this?


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  • PRO

    install and ongoing maintenace of machine and infrastructure (wires / docking station). I lot of customers want zero hassle, so remove mowing first, and then remove looking after it.

    There do seem to franchises cropping up for the above as well as local mower shops adding it on a service with the robot sale.

  • I don't feel threatened by other gardeners who carry out poor quality grass cuts, so why feel a threat from a lawnmower that does the same?

  • The famous gardener Karl Marx pointed out "the instrument of labour, when it takes the form of a machine, immediately becomes a competitor of the workman himself."  With the benefit of hindsight, the Luddites had a point!

  • PRO

    I went to The Spring Garden Show At Malvern on Saturday, my local machinery dealer had a stand with a robotic mower skidding about on a patch of wet grass that had be trampled underfoot.

    In passing I said to my wife that they had made a mistake not setting the mower up and getting it to cut the grass before anyone walked on it, but actually with hindsight I think I would have cut it with a decent petrol mower then set the robotic mower up rather than basically trying to get it yo mow a muddy field with grass that was probably to long for it as well as being wet and muddy.

    My wife commented that someone she used to work with had an early version of a robotic mower and it escaped through their hedge then went on a rampage in their neighbours garden.

    They seem to work in too much of a random pattern to be able to mow a lawn whilst the operator weeds and tends flower beds or the like, they are also too expensive to leave working in someone’s front garden, there are fairly frequent reports of full size petrol and electric mowers never mind a robotic mower that can be tucked under someone’s arm.


    • PRO

      Perhaps one day robot mowers will become part of an environmental solution and pose a threat to out beloved petrol mowers if / when they are phased out and all garden machinery has to become green by law . 

      At the moment i dont consider them a threat in the slightest where efficiency is concerned and quality is required , an organised gardener with a petrol mower has to be more efficient than the automated slow pace and erratic operation of the robot mower . 

  • The robots will improve massively especially with AI and 5g being rolled out across the country.

    Farmers already have machinery that’ will work the field after being programmed with the boundary by simply driving around the boundary and is accurate to 3cm

    • Farmers fields are quite a different market and require massive investment in equipment. I cant see robotic mowers being taken up by the masses even when they become more affordable. Most people who spend money on their gardens want a complete package of care to include hedges, shrubs, borders, weeding etc and i dont see robots doing all these tasks anytime soon 

      • Mind you i feel like a robot some of the time

  • It sounds like Husqcarna's advice has been misunderstood, this is entirely the oposite of how a robot mower works. The robot goes out every day for many hours in a large garden, taking off 1 or 2 millimetres of new growth and leaving it as mulch. It could not possibly do a full weekly cut in the few hours that a maintenance team are on site, the cuttings would look unsigtly and probably clog up the device in minutes. 

    I imagine they are talking about a setup and maintenance contract that includes the monthly rental of the robot mower. You would lay the perimeter wire, provide a modern robot mower and visit to check it's functioning correctly. The good robots will phone you when they tip over or get stuck, which would be the contractors job to fix rather than the client who is working 50 miles away. Then on the odd day that your millionaire client actually steps foot in the garden, it's all picture perfect.

    The benefit to landscape companies is that you can get in there and sign up your rich clients, plus make some extra money from the rental and contract serivce. Otherwise the main agents for these Robot mowers are going to sell them to the rich clients with an installation package and the promises of hassle free robotic grass cutting for ever more, which is of course a myth becaue these robots will require lots of setting up, checking and recuing.

    • PRO

      Yes, agree with the above. There is an LJN member that does just that. They also find it presents additional opportunities for other services.... ;)

      Looking at the wider picture means you should see these opportunities ....

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