14569Consumer Reports Column
- Apr 1, 2008Not 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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