Identifying obstacles for autonomous mowers in the United States landscape

A.J. Brown, P.S. Allen
Autonomous (i.e., robotic) lawnmowers offer a number of environmental sustainability and labor-reduction benefits. Despite increasing popularity throughout Europe, autonomous mowers have yet to gain a significant market share in the United States (US). Common US landscaping styles present obstacles for expanded robotic mowing. We compiled a list of these limitations, then evaluated 117 properties submitted to the Awards of Excellence program administered by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Award submissions included landscape architecture plans, written descriptions and photos of completed projects, which allowed evaluation of properties for ease of maintenance by autonomous mowers. Properties were scored based on limitations present and severity of the obstacle in each case. Of the 117 properties surveyed, 70% were classified as “non-friendly to autonomous mowing”, meaning they had obstacles that impeded successful property maintenance. Obstacles that received a severity rating leading to this classification were predominantly associated with accessibility of lawn areas. The obstacles that most frequently occurred on the properties were separated lawn areas, obstructions at lawn edges, and obstructions within the lawn area. The obstacles that most frequently led to a property being disqualified for autonomous mower care were separate lawn areas, landscape features obstructing access, and stairs. Overall findings from this research indicate that landscape design modifications, rather than further technological advances by manufacturers, would provide the greatest improvement to the success of autonomous mowers.
Brown, A.J. and Allen, P.S. (2020). Identifying obstacles for autonomous mowers in the United States landscape. Acta Hortic. 1298, 113-120
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1298.17
robotic lawn mower, deficiencies, robot, technology, lawn care, sustainability

Acta Horticulturae