The future of lawn care shows great promise that things are about to get easier. Whether you have a disability that prevents you from doing yard work yourself or you simply dislike mowing the lawn, some pretty cool options are now becoming available (besides paying the neighbor kid to do it for you!)
The Honda Motor Company has completed and launched its very first home product using its new, innovative robotics technology. Up until now, Honda's usage of the technology has been criticized as somewhat indulgent and frivolous. It has created some actual robots with the technology that have been seen as impractical, even ridiculous toys rather than tools to make life easier. Products like the Asimo walking and talking robot have fallen short of what many users had hoped a personal robot could be.
So what is Honda's first, more practical home robotic product
An automated lawn mower!
The "Miimo" is a sensor-equipped lawn mowing device that the user can set loose on their lawn and allow it to mow the grass for them. It works by meandering around the lawn and continuously shaving off about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) from the grass. It travels on its own all around the yard, maneuvering itself over slopes and intuitively adjusting its speed for thicker grass patches. It can sense obstacles in its path and will automatically adjust its course (so it won't break your potted plants!) It also knows to go and recharge itself at its docking station when its battery is low.
No-Hassle Lawn Care
The Miimo device looks a bit like the "Roomba" vacuum cleaner made by iRobot Corp - you know, that disc-shaped device you can set loose in your home to keep your carpets perpetually clean? The Miimo actually looks more like the base of a lawnmower, albeit more streamlined, with 4 small wheels and without the handle mechanism. It works on the same principle as the Roomba, too, with built-in sensors to keep it from colliding with walls, fences, objects and people. Instead of having to vacuum or mow the lawn all at once, there is a continual maintenance plan going on, with minimal need for human intervention.
The Miimo boasts many selling points, including the fact that there's no need for a bag or the collection of trimmings, since the grass pieces being cut are so tiny. The fact that it can cut in a random pattern means it provides a more uniform look, less stress on the grass, and a reduction in weed and moss growth. (However, it does offer a "directional" setting if a more uniform cutting style is desired. The "mixed" setting will use a mixture of both random and directional cutting.)
Safety and security are also assured because of two "lift" sensors that are triggered if the Miimo leaves the ground. If this happens, an alarm sounds and the device shuts down completely. It then cannot be used again until the owner enters their unique PIN number.
The Miimo will initially be sold with a full service package. When purchased, the dealer will install a docking station at the customer's location, which acts as both the signal generator and charging point. A boundary wire is then connected to the docking station and routed around the perimeter of the yard to define the mowing area. The device can then be programmed to mow as the customer chooses, using a built-in calendar and timer. At the end of the mowing season the Honda Dealer will return and collect the Miimo for winter maintenance.
The Miimo goes on sale next year in Europe, with plans for later distribution in other markets. Europeans tend to have very spacious lawns enclosed within gates, which is the ideal lawn for the Miimo. The debut model of the Miimo will sell for about $2,600. Honda hopes to make about 4,000 sales in its first year of production.
The implications of the Miimo and similar devices for disabled persons are clear. Someone who is physically incapable of mowing their lawn on their own would benefit greatly from having such a device doing this task for them. Besides, summer is best enjoyed while kicked back and sipping an iced tea!
About the Author: Adam works with O'Connor's Lawn - www.oconnorslawn.com/c/toro - Your source for riding lawn mowers. Adam enjoys writing about landscaping and lawn care.
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