Hey, it's Asimo, with A BRAND NEW ROBOT FROM HONDA! It's... It's... A robot lawn mower? Oh, okay. Cool?
We don't mean to sound disappointed or anything, it's just that Honda has spent a very long time developing one of the most, if not the most, advanced humanoid robots in the world, and we keep hoping that they'll adapt that technology to do something amazing. And while we are legitimately excited to see Honda taking a crack at the consumer robotics market, a robot lawn mower wasn't anywhere close to what we were hoping for in either our wildest dreams, or our relatively tame dreams.
Aaanyway, let's take a look at this thing, shall we? It's called Miimo, and here's all the specs, from Honda:
Honda Miimo operates a ‘continuous cutting' system, typically mowing just 2-3mm of grass at a time, several times each week. It cuts in a random pattern, meaning less stress on the grass, more healthy growth and reduced moss and weeds. Unlike a traditional lawn mower it doesn't need to collect cuttings, as the clippings it creates are so small that they are dispersed into the lawn root system, breaking down quickly to act as a natural fertiliser which improves the health and quality of the grass.Honda Miimo navigates the garden through an intelligent combination of controls, timers and real-time sensory feedback. It works within a boundary wire, installed under the ground or in the grass around the perimeter of the garden. Honda Miimo detects the electronic signal in the wire and stays within it, ensuring high levels of safety and accuracy. Powered by a high performance lithium-ion battery, it is self-charging, constantly monitoring its battery level and returning to its docking station when it needs to recharge.Uniquely, Honda Miimo features a fan, built-in to its blade holder, which creates airflow to effectively ‘suck' the grass towards the blades. This ensures a superior finish and a more consistent distribution of clippings back into the root system. Additionally, in a first in the market, it uses three highly durable blades, which bend rather than shatter on impact with hard objects, eliminating the danger of pieces of broken blade being left on the lawn. Cutting height is adjustable between 20mm and 60mm, to suit the conditions and time of year.
The thing that's going to make robotic lawn mowers viable is when they'll be as convenient and easy to use as a Roomba, and the thing that's keeping robotic lawn mowers from being as convenient and easy to use as a Roomba is the need to install an edge wire. We don't mean to imply that installing an edge wire is really that hard to do or anything, but it's still a significant obstacle to adoption by most consumers, especially considering how expensive typical robotic lawn mowers are: for $2,000 and up, you'd kind of expect them to be able to cope with lawns by themselves, you know? Roboticists may be well aware of all of the challenges involved in autonomous lawn detection, but the people buying the robots might not be.
If you do decide to buy Miimo, you don't just go to a store and walk out with one. Instead, a dealer will come to your house and install it and program it for you, and then at the end of the summer, come back and cart it off for maintenance and storage until next spring.
Honda's Miimo goes on sale in Europe next year for between $2,600 and $3,000, depending on options.
[ Honda ]