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14569Consumer Reports Column

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  • schultcj
    Apr 1, 2008
      Not too encouraging, I thought Ames was helping develop the testing
      and help to make sure CR gave a fair review. See the text below from
      the site, this can be accessed in the free section of the CR site.

      Has anyone heard of any accidents from the Lawnbott or Robomower?

      Robotic mowers: Close-up
      We test two machines and find one Not Acceptable

      HIGH RISK The LawnBott must be lifted high before its blade
      stops.Robotic mowers promise to save time and effort as they rove
      within a perimeter wire that sets the mowing boundaries. But like
      many robots in countless sci-fi movies, one of these robotic machines
      poses a serious risk to those it would serve.

      We tested Friendly Robotics' $2,000 RoboMower RL1000 and LawnBott's
      $2,500 LB3200 Evolution. Both crisscross randomly within their
      boundaries, reversing direction when they reach the wire or an
      obstacle and returning to their charging stations when needed. And
      both use metal blades. When we lifted the 78-pound RoboMower while
      mowing, its blades stopped roughly 1 second after its wheels left the
      ground. But the blade on the 25-pound LawnBott robotic mower kept
      spinning until we lifted it beyond roughly 45 degrees. Even after
      that, its blade took nearly 4 seconds to stop. In our judgment,
      either situation could harm an adult or a curious child.

      We contacted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and
      asked it to investigate the LawnBott LB3200. We also contacted this
      Italian-made robotic mower's U.S. distributor, which told us that a
      downloadable software update stops the blade within 1 second after
      this mower is lifted beyond about 35 degrees. But even if the blade
      stops more quickly, according to the distributor, it won't stop until
      you lift the mower beyond about 35 degrees. The distributor says that
      feature allows the LawnBott to work on steeper slopes. We believe
      that even with this update, the LawnBott LB3200 Evolution poses a
      serious safety risk and have judged it Not Acceptable.

      Since 1983, all powered walk-behind mowers must protect hands and
      feet by stopping the blades quickly after the operator releases a
      handlebar deadman control, as part of a mandatory CPSC standard
      Consumers Union helped develop. Ride-on machines stop their blades
      when the operator leaves the seat as part of a voluntary industry
      standard. Yet no such standard exists for robotic mowers. We believe
      that all mowers should be required to meet effective safety standards.

      As for the RoboMower, its cut was unimpressive, and it sometimes got
      stuck and didn't return to its charger. We also question the time-
      saving claims. With both robotic mowers, you're warned to keep
      children and pets away. RoboMower warns you to supervise its mowing—
      advice we support for all robotic mowers. For a half-acre lawn, that
      could mean 4 hours of supervising several times a week, compared with
      about an hour a week of walking or sitting with a mower.
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