How the test was made
We carry out our tests ourselves and test all products as they are intended to be used in reality. The robotic lawn mower is what’s known as an “autonomous robot”, which means that it works independently. So it needs to be able to cope with a number of different situations and environments. Evaluating how it actually deals with these requires major product knowledge and is time-consuming.
To obtain test results that are as reliable as possible, we have tested the robotic lawn mowers for several months, on several different types of lawns and in different types of weather. This makes it possible to judge long-term effects and seasonal impact. For example, it’s often wet in the autumn but dry in high summer. The grass grows mostly at the start of the summer and the lawn is most brittle during the dryness of high summer and the autumn rains. Testing robotic lawnmowers under all these conditions also gives a better overall picture than simply testing them for a couple of weeks in the early summer – something that is common in other robotic lawn mower tests.
It’s also common in other tests to use only one grass area per model, on which the test body artificially tries to include all types of difficulty. However, our experience tells us that it’s extremely difficult to succeed with this. Primarily because it’s so difficult to predict all of the types of difficulties that different lawns present. So we think that the more types of lawn that a robotic lawn mower is tested on, the better.
In our assessment we have focused on the following characteristics:
Performance, effectiveness & reliability: How big an area of grass can the robotic lawn mower cope with? How intelligent is it? How effectively does it work in terms of time and cutting results? How long do you need to spend on the lawn? How good are the cutting results over the short and long term? How reliable is it? How often does it stop and report an error message, and in what situations? How good are the robotic lawn mower’s terrain-handling abilities? How does it cope with unevenness, roots, paths, steep slopes and loose surfaces? How does it cope with obstacles such as trees, bushes, flowerbeds, raised vegetable beds, sand pits, swings and trampolines? How well does it cut long, coarse and wet grass? How kind is it on brittle grass? How does the robotic lawn mower avoid wheel tracks along the perimeter wire? How does it cope with narrow passages, sharp corners, areas full of obstacles or secondary areas? How flexible can the cable laying be for it still to cope? Does it have an edge cutting function?
Ease of use: Is the installation quick and straightforward or slow and fiddly? Are there clear instructions, such as detailed illustrations or YouTube videos? How easy is the robotic lawn mower to programme? Is the menu system easy to navigate? How does the robotic lawn mower communicate with its owner? What type of information does it give? Can it be controlled with an app? How well designed is the app and what functionality does it have? How noisy is the robotic lawn mower? Can you be in the garden without being disturbed by the noise it produces? Can it work at night without disturbing the neighbours?
Design & construction quality: How well designed is the robotic lawn mower? How attractive is it? How well does the design aid the terrain-handling abilities? Do the wheels give good grip while simultaneously being kind to the lawn? How much stress and wear does the construction tolerate? How tough are the blades? How quietly do the blades work, and how much force is required to power them? Do the blades give a neat cut or do they tear the grass? How often do you have to replace the blades? How easy and how expensive is this? Does the robotic lawn mower easily get scratched or dirty? What guarantee does it have? Are there spare parts?
Functionality/safety: What settings are available? How much control does the user have of the cutting schedule? Does the robotic lawn mower use pivot blades or fixed blades? Does the signal in the perimeter wire interfere with other robotic lawnmowers? How safe is the robotic lawn mower? Can children or pets get at the blades? How much damage do the blades do, for example to forgotten toys? How effective is the theft protection? What happens if you forget the PIN code, or somebody enters the wrong PIN code?
We have pushed each robotic lawn mower to the limits of what it can cope with to see what types of situations and environments it can handle. Each robotic lawn mower has been given a score according to its value for money; in other words how good it is in each area in relation to its price tag. An expensive model thus has higher expectations than a cheaper one, and vice versa. We noted how often, where and why each robotic lawn mower stopped, and what consequences that had on the cutting result.
The Husqvarna Automower 315 is best in test because it combines very good terrain-handling abilities and high reliability with an easily programmed interface and intelligent solutions for navigation. For example, the charging station sends out a signal that means that, within a 6-metre radius, the robotic lawn mower senses the station and navigates in from different angles each time. This means that it doesn't cause tracks by the entrance. The guide cable is also a really great addition. If you have a garden with a complicated shape or many work areas, the guide cable means that the robotic lawn mower can easily find its way out and back again. Instead of travelling along the wire right around the edge of the garden, it can take a shortcut. However, we do notice some track creation along the guide cable which doesn't occur when it runs along the perimeter wire. Terrain-handling abilities are exemplary and the Automower 315 pretty much never gets stuck. It can also handle steep slopes, obstacles and paving on or around the lawn with ease. From a reliability viewpoint, in this price class it's absolutely one of the best robotic lawn mowers on the market. It's also very quiet and very strong. It can be out cutting for quite a long time. The only disadvantage when it comes to tough terrain is that the bodywork easily gets scratched.
The Automower 315 is supplied with app support and the app is very user-friendly. Through this, you can easily change settings such as start points, manual cutting height adjustment and new schedules. You connect the telephone to the robotic lawn mower via a Bluetooth connection. If you buy the premium version of the lawn mower, the Automower 315X, you also get GPS and connection via the mobile network. Then you can see where the robotic lawn mower is located in real time on a map and change settings wherever you are, provided you have mobile coverage. With the Automower 315, however, you have to be content with changing settings when you're close to the lawn mower. Given the price tag and the app's general excellence, it's still really very good. The robotic lawn mower is very easy to programme even when you're changing the settings directly via the display on the machine body. The display is large and easy to read, and the entire interface is clearly divided up so that even beginners can understand it. Overall, the Husqvarna Automower 315 is a very good purchase for anyone who wants a reliable and easy to manage robotic lawn mower. It's suitable for everything from simple, landscaped lawns to the uneven, complicated variants with several different cutting areas. However, the Automower 315 is best value for money on trickier lawns where it can really show what it can do.
We've made the Husqvarna Automower 430X our best premium choice because of its many strengths - excellent terrain-handling abilities, a phenomenal problem-solving capacity and lots of intelligent functions. It's very easy to install as a result of clear markings and a straightforward connection method. The display is a decent size and the interface easy to navigate and get an overview of. The 430X has no problems with cutting the stated maximum surface area. It doesn't even need to go out cutting often to achieve an excellent result. And it always finds its way home as it has both a guide cable and perimeter wire. It even has a built-in antenna, which means it can nose its way up to the docking station once it's within a couple of metres of it. Despite the fact that we've run the 430X for several months, on lots of challenging lawns, it never gets stuck. This is due to its industry-leading terrain-handling abilities. It copes with difficulties such as steep gradients, hollows, roots, a loose underlying surface, tall grass, irregular cable laying and lots of obstacles in its way. The only thing that occasionally gives the 430X problems is reversing on steep gradients, particularly on a poor surface. The lawn mower is also so quiet that you can leave it running at night. And the cherry on this particular cake is that the 430X also includes Husqvarna's excellent AMC app. Unlike competitors' apps, AMC gives you complete control over the lawn mower wherever you are as it's connected via the mobile network. This makes it possible, for example, to monitor cutting status, or to change cutting schedule or cutting height while you're away.
The Automower 430X is quite large but can still get through narrow passages, and has no problem finding its way out of more enclosed areas. Unfortunately the bodywork easily gets scratched, and is damaged after just a few impacts with garden furniture and protruding branches. But this is the only real disadvantage of this robotic lawn mower. If you have a simple, open and perfectly laid lawn there are cheaper alternatives to the 430X. But if you've got a large, difficult lawn, the Husqvarna Automower 430X offers an unbeatable combination of reliability, terrain handling, time efficiency and user-friendliness.
The McCulloch Rob R600 constitutes a winning combination, with its good terrain-handling abilities and easily programmed interface, and is therefore our best budget choice. It's a relatively intelligent robotic lawn mower with very good reliability thanks to good design and material choices, and a problem-solving ability that's unbeatable for its price class. Just like many other smaller robotic lawn mowers, the R600 has three wheels, but here the paired wheels are at the front. This gives it good stability even on more uneven terrain. It can also cope with paving along the perimeter wire without any problem. The cutting result is good. It's quite narrow, so it takes a while for it to cut the entire area, but on the other hand it lasts for a long time on one charge. On average, it's out cutting for 60 minutes every other hour during the set working hours. It's also quite a quiet machine. It can only find its way home via the guide cable, not via the perimeter wire. On models intended for large gardens, a guide cable is a good complement to a system, as it's important to be able to take shortcuts. But on a small, uncomplicated plot, it would often be easier not to have a guide cable, as it becomes something that increases the risk of cable breakage, while the installation also becomes slightly more time-consuming. On the other hand, it's good that it has the option of a guide cable. But we'd have preferred not to be limited to just this one alternative.
It's very easy to get set up and programme the Rob R600. The display is large and clear. There's a knob on the top to set the cutting height. The knob is protected by a cover, and there's also a narrow display beneath it that shows the chosen setting. The mower also includes a generous amount of installation material. The robot doesn't detect its charging station like many more expensive models. This means in practice that it tends to collide with the station when it's out cutting. So you need to anchor it into the ground well and be careful with how you conceal the cables. Another disadvantage when you're buying in this price class is that the mowers don't have large numbers of functions. In principle, you get what you need so that it can cope with cutting and navigating on the lawn, but no advanced setting options. The R600 may be simple, but it has major advantages in that it doesn't get stuck and can take itself out of tricky situations. It has no problems with obstacles on its way home, finding its way out of small, enclosed areas or handling obstacles on the lawn during cutting. The R600 is best on small to medium-size lawns - even complicated ones - without steep slopes and with a relatively even underlying surface.
The Honda Miimo 310 is a user-friendly robotic lawn mower in the medium price class, with very good terrain-handling abilities and a reasonable cutting time. In fact its terrain-handling abilities are one of its biggest advantages. It easily copes with different types of surfaces, deals with obstacles in an intelligent manner and manages pits and slopes with excellent results. The fact that it can also cut tall grass in an exemplary manner reinforces this impression still further. The taller the grass, the slower it creeps along. It can pretty much stand completely still and cut until the grass reaches the desired length, which almost no other robotic lawn mowers can do.
On the few occasions that it still managed to get stuck during the several month long test period, we discovered that it was prone to digging itself downwards in its attempts to get free, which can damage the lawn. We clocked the cutting time as around 40 minutes, and after this it has to charge for about as long again before it can go back to cutting. This is OK, but not great. When it's cutting, the noise level is also OK, but if we were to be really fussy it's a bit on the shrill side. The menu system is clear and it's easy to change settings. The installation could be more straightforward. Cable connectors make it easy to connect the cable, but the space behind is cramped and the connections aren't positioned in a user-friendly manner. It's not obvious which end of the perimeter wire should be connected where, and you can't really see what you're doing because of the cramped space. Despite this minor inconvenience, the installation is still manageable for a beginner. When everything is in place, the actual programming is simple.
The Miimo 310 is usually very intelligent. It gets itself out of all the difficult situations we test it with, such as small, enclosed spaces and obstacles along the route home. However, once it gets near home it slavishly carries out a single movement pattern every time. So during the spring, autumn and in rainy summers it can easily create tracks in the lawn right by the entrance. However, there are no problems with tracks forming along the perimeter wire. The charging station is installed along the perimeter wire and can be sensitive in terms of positioning. If the angle is off by just a few degrees, it can have problems docking. When the charging station is correctly positioned, it never has any problems getting in, either when it comes directly towards the opening or from behind so it has to move around the station first. With everything properly installed and tested, reliability is extremely high. It almost never gets stuck, it's easy to adjust the cutting height and it always finds its way home. As it can also cope with tall grass with such panache, we can truly recommend this robotic lawn mower for simple, medium hard and difficult lawns of average size.
The Husqvarna Automower 450X is a quiet, strong and reliable premium lawn mower with an unusually high cutting capacity. It can cut for several hours at a time without having to go home and recharge. When it does go home, or out again, it can run along the perimeter wire or guide cable. The guide cable is a kind of shortcut you lay across the garden so that the robotic lawn mower can easily find its way out to and back from specific places. In total, it can deal with three different guide cables, which means significant time savings in large, complicated areas. It can also detect the charging station when it gets closer to it, by means of a built-in antenna. These features facilitate a quick and safe return home. However, one of the 450X's foremost strengths is its terrain-handling abilities. It can cope with everything from simple, large and flat lawns with trees and bushes to smaller, divided lawns with corridors between. Hollows in the lawn, undergrowth here and there and lots of fallen fruit pose no problem at all. When it approaches larger obstacles, it reads these with an ultrasound sensor and slows down so that there are no sudden collisions. This reduces the risk of scratches on the otherwise easily scratched bodywork. It also means that it can keep up a higher speed on open areas than would otherwise have been possible. The 450X can also cope with steep slopes. It's a little weak at reversing on slopes with gradients above the stated specification, but in general the 450X is very strong. It's only when the slope gets so steep that it's rubbing on the underside of the bodywork that it can't move any further, because it becomes physically impossible.
The Automower 450X works very quietly and can even cut the lawn at night. This is when the built-in headlights come in handy, so that you don't trip over the robotic lawn mower in the dark. You can also deactivate these. The included app is very user-friendly and gives you almost complete control over your 450X wherever you are, provided you have mobile coverage. You can do everything from seeing where the robotic lawn mower is on the lawn in real time to adjusting cutting height and working time at a distance. The app also notifies you if the robotic lawn mower is stolen or gets stuck. The robotic lawn mower is quite large but can squeeze through quite narrow corridors. For example, 60 cm is no problem. Overall, this is a reliable, strong robotic lawn mower with lots of functions that's easy to programme both directly and at a distance. It also produces very good cutting results. But it's a luxury machine primarily intended for commercial use, and the price tag reflects this. If we ignore the price, it's quite clearly the best robotic lawn mower on the market.
The Honda Miimo HRM 3000 is a very competent and powerful robotic lawn mower. It takes itself up steep slopes without problems, navigates tight spaces and deals with undulating terrain perfectly. One of its most positive characteristics is how well it deals with tall grass. It moves slowly but surely over the most densely grown parts where many other robotic lawn mowers wouldn't have a chance. It can pretty much stand completely still and cut if necessary when the grass is tall. The end result is even and neat. The Miimo 3000 is also extremely reliable. Once it's got used to an area - in other words, after you've fixed any obstacles - it can run for months without problems. However, if the Miimo 3000 does get stuck, it has a tendency to dig itself into the lawn. We would have preferred it to quickly realise the situation and shut itself down to save on batteries and protect the lawn. But perhaps it's also partly this function that means it so rarely gets stuck.
The Miimo 3000 has app support via Bluetooth connection. This means in practice that within a 10-metre radius of the robotic lawn mower, you can adjust things like its schedule. The interface is easy to navigate and the range of functions is very good. However, we would have appreciated a GSM connection, given the price class. This would have given you the option to control the lawn mower at distance, for example providing information if it were to get stuck. And in terms of noise, quieter cutting would have been nicer. The noise level isn't high exactly, but the noise profile when it cuts is quite shrill. If the Miimo 3000 had been a bit cheaper, we'd have been more lenient, but our demands for premium class models are very high. However, in terms of intelligence it's very good. It navigates easily through both small areas with obstacles and open spaces. A garden constantly changes with bushes growing, falling branches and fruit etc. The Miimo 3000 has no problem with any of this. It's also very easy to programme. The interface has plenty of functions but is also cleverly planned so that you can easily find what you're looking for. Text and buttons are large and clear. You can also adjust the cutting height electronically. Compared to its smaller sibling, the 310, you have a relatively free hand in positioning the charging station. However, it's still quite sensitive to begin with, and you have to find the right position to avoid causing problems. Once you've done this, however, docking is problem-free. The Miimo 3000 is a clearly premium lawn mower that's idea for large, difficult and complicated lawns, where it does an impressively good job.
The Japanese manufacturer is a relatively late arrival to the robotic lawn mower industry, despite its well known love of robots. However, in just a few years Honda's premium robotic lawn mower, Miimo, has developed into one of the best on the market. There are two versions – designated 310 and 520 – which are practically identical except for the battery capacity and a couple of software details. The Miimo feels very Japanese in a number of ways, the most obvious – apart from the name – being the well conceived design. The build quality is very high and shock absorption means that the Miimo is extremely quiet and makes it appear to be floating discreetly above the grass. The noise level is so low that you can actually use it to cut the grass at night.
Programming is straightforward as the menu system is relatively easy to navigate, while still having many setting options. The display is illuminated, although unfortunately the keypad is not. Safety is excellent, with well protected pivot blades and an easily accessible STOP button. The Miimo is now one of the most reliable robotic lawn mowers on the market and rarely gets stuck even in more difficult gardens. Only the most challenging lawns will give it problems. The cutting result is very even and neat, not least because the Miimo effectively adapts its speed to the resistance it encounters, slowing down for areas such as taller grass. Installation of the base station has been simplified compared to earlier, but is still unnecessarily complicated. All installation is generally carried out by Honda's authorised dealers.
The Automower 105 is one of Husqvarna’s cheapest robotic lawn mowers, with a price in the upper budget class. In many ways it’s like the Gardena R50Li, which is also manufactured by Husqvarna. Husqvarna’s industry-leading AI makes the Automower 105 extremely intelligent. It resolves difficult situations easily, which makes it reliable for a budget class model. The maximum gradient is in fact slightly higher than that stated in the specifications but still moderate. The small size and low machine weight makes the robotic lawn mower easy to move but at the same time also leads to clearly limited terrain-handling abilities and a minimal cutting width. This makes cutting slow and if the area to be cut includes problematic surfaces such as large surface roots, the robotic lawn mower easily runs into problems and gets stuck. However, it is quiet and can therefore be used to advantage at night without disturbing the neighbours. Mowing the lawn at night means that you get to use it yourself during the daytime.
Safety levels are excellent. It’s almost impossible to get at the pivot blades without the lifting sensor stopping them, but if someone does succeed the blades have such a small amount of power that injuries will be limited. Forgotten toys aren’t cut into shreds, but are instead thrown out of the way bearing the odd dent. Installing the Automower 105 with its base station and perimeter wire is relatively straightforward. Husqvarna’s patented guide cable is a really clever innovation that can save a great deal of time on more complicated lawns. However, on the simplest lawns this function is unnecessary, but you still have to install the guide cable – which feels a bit over the top. Programming is simple with an easily navigated menu system and a clear user manual. The Automower 105 is reasonably priced in relation to its performance and represents a reliable investment for small and medium-sized lawns without major gradients and with a uniform surface.
*We have tested the Husqvarna Automower 105’s predecessor – the 308. The models are identical except that the 308 has a recommended cutting area of 800 m², compared with the 105’s 600 m².
The Viking iMow MI 422 is a small and neat robotic lawn mower that produces a very good mowing result. It's easy to set up, but unfortunately the charging station hasn't been very well designed and you end up with a good bit of dead space around it that you have to cut with a strimmer. The first time you start the MI 422, it travels around the garden on its own to work out how big it is. This is a useful function for anyone who can't calculate the exact size of their garden. It also gives a good overview of whether or not the perimeter wire is well placed in terms of bringing the lawn mower home - you can see immediately if something needs adjusting. Based on the results of this trip, the lawn mower suggests a cutting schedule, which of course you can then adapt to your own preferences. The fixed blades are excellent and cope with mowing even in quite heavy terrain. When the lawn mower can no longer cope with mowing, it turns off the blades and tries a little further on. This means that it tends to drive over tall grass rather than cutting it down. But the cutting result is very even and neat. However, the MI 422 gets stuck very easily, not least because it requires a very level cutting surface. Just a slight undulation in the lawn means it gets stuck. Sometimes you can't even see anything it can have got stuck on. Equally, the MI 422 struggles when it's damp out as it easily slips and digs itself down it into the lawn. Fortunately it realises this and turns itself off instead of standing still and wasting the battery until it dies.
The MI 422 has a user-friendly and easily navigated menu system in which you can easily set a schedule for it. There's also a "mow now" quick command that's particularly useful when it hasn't been mowing for a while and needs to catch up. Normally, the MI 422's cutting time is a reasonable 40 minutes, which is slightly more than what Viking promise. However, if it's not been out mowing for a while and the grass has grown this reduces the cutting time to the promised 30 minutes. We think this is a bit on the short side. The tyres are very smooth and hard, which means that the robotic lawn mower finds it difficult to deal with surfaces other than plain grass. For example, if you have paving, you need to make sure that the mower doesn't partially climb onto it while mowing, because it can easily start digging itself into the lawn. Another disadvantage is that it's very sensitive to the positioning of the charging station and can't always find its way in if this isn't perfectly positioned. We would have liked it to be quieter when mowing too. However, it's strong as an ox given the price class. The Viking iMow MI 422 is best on smaller, manicured and very even lawns.
* The Viking iMow 422's sister model, the Viking iMow 422C, has app support.
The Viking iMow MI 632 is a large and user-friendly robotic lawn mower for level lawns. It has fixed blades and a strong motor that means it can cut even tall and thick grass without problems. If this robotic lawn mower had better terrain-handling abilities, it would have impressed us. Unfortunately, even moderate unevenness in the lawn means that the MI 632 gets stuck. It also has difficulties handling surfaces other than grass - probably because of the smooth wheels. For example, if you have paving in the garden, the robotic lawn mower can get into difficulties if it has to run partly on this to trim edges. But if you have a simple, completely flat and even lawn, the MI 632 has no problems. And if the lawn grows a little too much it's quite capable of catching up with the mowing.
The Garden iMow MI 632 is very easy to install. It has a programme that means it first trundles out around the perimeter wire and calculates how big the garden is. It then suggests a cutting programme that you can adapt based on your own needs. Programming is carried out via a large display with easily legible text and well-designed menus, and via large, clear buttons. It has many functions, but we'd have liked to see app support. An app should be a given in this price class. It has no difficulties navigating through the garden or finding different work areas. It also easily extricates itself from narrow spaces or situations such as fallen branches on its route home. Overall, the MI 632 feels well programmed. But given the high price tag, we'd have expected even better cutting results. The Viking iMow MI 632 is primarily suitable for slightly larger but simple lawns without slopes or hollows. If the lawn is manicured and even, it will do an excellent job, and it's easy to programme and intelligent.
* The Viking iMow 632's sister model, the Viking iMow 632C, has app support.
The Worx Landroid M WG791E.1 is a budget class robotic lawn mower that feels stable and robust in use, and with a compact design that makes it an attractive addition to the garden. The docking station is also compact and robust. The design of the latter means that the robotic lawn mower never has any problems docking correctly - the station leads the lawn mower into the right position instead of it having to seek its way in like with many of its competitors. However, this is essential, because in terms of intelligence, the Landroid M leaves a lot to be desired. For example, it can't cope with obstacles along its route home or when it's edge trimming. If your rose bushes have grown too much or if there are other obstacles near the perimeter wire, it will simply bump into these until the battery dies. The same thing applies if it gets stuck - it keeps running until the battery runs out. This means that you'll have to recharge it for a good while once you've extricated it, and it also leads to problems with the software resetting itself. For example, on one occasion it lost its language settings. The Landroid M also slavishly follows the wire, meaning that it creates tracks in the lawn. Overall it's rather reminiscent of a steamroller in terms of mentality, as it simply chugs along without any particular finesse.
The Landroid M is easy to install. The package includes everything you need and all connections are clearly marked. Together with a good manual and a reasonable interface, this means you can quickly get started. The robotic lawn mower then does a good enough job as long as the lawn is a simpler one. Nor must there be too many weeds as the lawn mower finds it difficult to cut them - instead the weeds tend to bend beneath it. The cutting width is also rather narrow, which means that it works slowly, particularly as it has to go over some bits several times to obtain a perfect result. On the other hand, it has a longish operating time. The Landroid M can also cope with slightly undulating terrain to the extent that you'd expect from a budget model. However, damp lawns seem to be something of an Achilles' heel. It quite quickly starts to slip and has a tendency to get stuck. The Landroid M also travels over the perimeter wire when the weather has been poor, which means it comes to a stop. Another problem in damp weather is some form of voltage loss, which means it thinks it needs charging, then once it gets back to the station it goes straight back out again. In other words, you need good weather and a relatively flat and even, small lawn without bushes or other reliability risks for this robotic lawn mower to be able to do its job. But if you have a simple lawn that also has parts with quite steep gradients this is a budget model that can handle them.
The German brand AL-KO is not very well known in UK, but is quite big throughout the rest of the continent, where the company's signature red colour is associated with German quality at reasonable prices. The Robolinho 100 is AL-KO’s first budget class robotic lawn mower, and the fact that the company is relatively new to the market is clear from the Robolinho’s AI. It’s not yet as sophisticated as those of more experienced competitors, which leads to a limited problem solving ability. This means it more easily has problems with difficult terrain, such as roots, or loose surfaces, such as deep drifts of leaves.
The Robolinho sometimes doesn’t realise that it is stuck and the wheels continue to turn, which can damage the lawn. Despite a weight of only 8 kg, the Robolinho is relatively strong and copes with gradients well for its price class. In addition, the cutting width is very generous and is actually among the widest in the test. In combination with the Robolinho’s small size, however, there’s a smaller safety buffer between the knife blades and the surroundings. This is counteracted somewhat by the Robolinho's pivot blades, which are significantly less dangerous than fixed blades. One potential source of irritation is that you have to unscrew a hatch on the base station to see if the perimeter wire is working. The recommended maximum surface area of 700 m² is also hard to reach as the base station can’t cope with a particularly long perimeter wire. But if your lawn is sufficiently easy to handle the Robolinho can be very reliable.
The Stiga Autoclip 225 S Is a small and neat - but relatively heavy - robotic lawn mower that can cut for a very long time on one charge. This is also its biggest strength. It's best on flat, completely even lawns. Here it is strong and has no problems with tall grass. However, it can run away on downhill slopes instead of braking, so it sometimes has problems cutting properly on these areas. The charging station has to be positioned along the perimeter wire and requires a few metres of open space to the right and in front of it. This makes positioning of the charging station less flexible. Once you've fixed this, the 225 S has no problems finding its way home and docking. Connecting the charging station is amazingly primitive and could definitely have been made more user-friendly. The same applies to the positioning of the perimeter wire, which is more fiddly than average. The cutting height adjustment is also primitive, requiring you to switch off the mower, turn it upside down and use a tool.
Unfortunately, the 225 S also has a relatively old-fashioned and clumsy user interface. The small two-line display only has space for a few words and buttons. This makes programming time-consuming. The options are also rather poor. For example, you can't set one or more working times per weekday. Instead you have to be satisfied with a maximum of two schedules with a single time interval in each one. The app makes it possible to remotely control the robotic lawn mower as if it was a radio-controlled car. This is fun, but the practical use is minimal. Nor can you adjust the cutting time or tell it to start cutting. The robotic lawn mower has one wheel at the front and two at the back. Terrain-handling abilities are the 225 S's biggest weakness, and it gets stuck pretty much every day. For example, if it happens to end up nose down in a hollow in the lawn, it's almost never able to get out again on its own. However, you can buy spiked wheels to attach alongside the normal wheels, and these improve terrain handling dramatically. The difference is so great that the 225 S with spiked wheels is more like an entirely different lawn mower. We would have liked these to be included in the standard package. The Stiga 225 S is best on medium sized lawns that are flat and have a simple shape.
The Wiper C XH is a robotic lawn mower with a very long operating time given its price class, together with a strong motor. As long as it doesn't run into obstacles in the terrain, it cuts well and leaves a neat result. However, it has problems compensating for the extra speed on downward slopes, and here it has problems cutting properly. The bodywork is relatively low. The lower part consists of a rubber part that's intended to bend if it gets stuck on an uneven lawn. In terms of appearance, it looks fine, but from a practical viewpoint it's not very effective. If the C XH's front wheels run into a hollow, it will undoubtedly get stuck. And unfortunately it can rarely get itself back out again, so it just sits and spins its wheels. Many other robotic lawn mowers cope with these hollows as if they didn't exist. Its terrain-handling abilities are the C XH's biggest shortcoming, because they mean that the long operating time can rarely be exploited. Instead the robot gets stuck and stays there until you rescue it. Here it would have been useful to have an app that informed you when it got stuck, but this function doesn't currently exist. However, when we attach spiked wheels it behaves like a completely different lawn mower. The terrain-handling abilities are improved so much that we think these should be provided as standard. One advantage with the C XH is that it turns itself off in time when it's stuck instead of sitting wasting the battery. So you don't have to put it back in the charging station straight after rescuing it, which is the case with many other lawn mowers.
Unfortunately, the Wiper C XH can't be classified as particularly user-friendly, especially given the competition. Connection of the charging station, programming of the robotic lawn mower and cutting height adjustment are all old-fashioned. Connection is carried out by baring and inserting the wires of the perimeter wire directly into the connection. Nor is it clearly marked which end needs to go in which connection. Programming takes place via a two-line display, with words that are sometimes abbreviated to fit. Most people will need to get out the manual every time they need to change the settings because the buttons aren't self-explanatory and also have several different functions. You also have to set the cutting height with a tool instead of a straightforward manual knob or electronic cutting height setting. This feels shame on an otherwise powerful and neat little robotic lawn mower. But when it's out cutting it does a very good job of keeping the lawn in trim. It also resolves problems with obstacles, for example, if a branch has fallen along the perimeter wire that means it has to take a U-shaped diversion to get home. The Wiper C XH is best on uncomplicated, very level lawns of medium size.
The Bosch Indego 400 Connect is a small, neat robotic lawn mower with a compact docking station that makes it easy to position even in tight spaces. However, the installation is quite fiddly because the manual leaves a lot to be desired. It's very poorly translated and the installation instructions are unclear even for someone used to installing lawn mowers. The robotic lawn mower itself is also very sensitive. Pretty much everything has to be positioned perfectly to avoid errors during docking or mowing. Even variations so small that they aren't visible with the naked eye can cause the robotic lawn mower to go on strike. This means it can take a long time before the Indego 400 Connect is actually out there mowing. The software in the robotic lawn mower is also badly translated and buggy. And the tiny display means that menu choices often have to be abbreviated and that it's not always obvious to the user what's going on. This is particularly clear when we ask normal homeowners to try changing parameters under our supervision.
The Indego 400 Connect has a narrow cutting width, but as it's only intended for small lawns the cutting time is still normal. The cutting result is good, with an even, neat lawn as long as your garden doesn't slope. If it does, the lawn mower tends to slip, particularly in damp grass. It also often misses areas on slopes so you end up with tufts of longer grass there. Where the mowing surface is near a slope, you should place the perimeter wire little way in from it because the robotic lawn mower is otherwise likely to slide over the wire and stop. The software also seems to have been strangely constructed. The robotic lawn mower often stops during mowing to "update the map". This leads to annoying small interruptions during the very short time it's actually out mowing. However, it's good at finding its way home and docking when you have set up the charging station perfectly. It looks after itself quite well as long as you don't have to make changes in the software.
Useful information about robotic lawn mowers
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. This is what gives robotic lawn mowers their problem-solving ability. Just like people, the better they are at solving a variety of problems, the more intelligent robotic lawn mowers are considered to be. Working out how to make a robotic mower more intelligent is an extremely expensive process that involves a great deal of trial and error. For this reason, robotic lawn mowers from companies that have been manufacturing them for a long time tend to have a better AI than newcomers, whose models often demonstrate "teething troubles" in terms of problem-solving ability. In practice, this is because some manufacturers have succeeded in creating more intelligent algorithms than others. An algorithm can be seen as a set of instructions that tell the robotic lawn mower what it should do in a range of different situations.
Probably the major reason to buy a robotic lawn mower is to save time and effort. So it's obvious that you want it to be user-friendly.
To begin with, installation should be simple and straightforward, so that you can easily start using your robotic lawn mower. Some models are easier to install than others, and this difference can be particularly clear if you're doing the entire installation yourself for the first time.
When the installation is complete, the most important aspects that must be user-friendly are the robotic lawn mower's computer and control panel. The interface and menu system should be so intuitive that it's easy to navigate through the different functions. If the control panel has too few buttons, programming becomes time-consuming, while too many buttons can be confusing if the layout isn't sufficiently clear.
Build quality & durability
Robotic lawn mowers are expensive and complicated products, so it's important they don't break down. The factory guarantee covers the initial period, but after that you have to pay for repairs and maintenance yourself. In general, a high build quality means a durable robotic lawn mower. To have a long lifetime, the robotic lawn mower should also be impact resistant and not sensitive to external influences. It should therefore be moisture-resistant; in a rainy and damp climate, moisture should be prevented from penetrating the many circuits that make up a robotic lawn mower. It should also be heat-resistant so that it doesn't overheat from being out in the blazing sun for days on end. The blades should also be robust so that they don't bend or break when they hit hard objects such as stones, roots or forgotten toys.
The design of the robotic lawn mower determines not only how attractive it is but also how reliable and durable it is – and how well it handles difficult terrain. Robotic lawn mower designers must constantly manage conflicts between aesthetics, performance, functionality, manufacturing costs and safety. For example, a bigger cutting width is almost always preferable from a purely technical perspective, as it makes the robotic lawn mower more stable and quicker at cutting the lawn. At the same time it's also more expensive to manufacture such a mower. A smaller safety buffer around the inside of the housing makes possible a wider cutting width but simultaneously increases the risks of accidents. In the same way, a big red "STOP" button is useful from a safety viewpoint, but from an aesthetic perspective it's nicer if it's a bit less visible. So in a well-designed robotic lawn mower, all of these factors are taken into account.
Reliability is perhaps the single most important characteristic of a robotic lawn mower. The whole idea of a robotic lawn mower – like all other types of robot – is for it to look after itself and to require as little work from its operator as possible. When the robotic lawn mower has been installed and programmed, it should therefore require minimal effort from its owner. An extremely reliable robotic lawn mower won't necessarily be able to cut the grass everywhere, but at the same time it should never get stuck anywhere either. But of course you also want it to be able to cut the more tricky parts of the garden. In practice, this means that no robotic lawn mower is completely reliable, and that they all sooner or later get helplessly stuck somewhere. However, for the most reliable robotic lawn mowers this happens very rarely, while the least reliable get stuck very often. The characteristics that are most important for reliability are the robotic lawn mower's terrain-handling abilities and its AI.
A robotic lawn mower's terrain-handling is the decisive aspect of its functionality. Partly because it determines where the robotic lawn mower will be able to cut the grass, and partly because it indirectly determines how often the robotic lawn mower will get stuck.
The most common obstacles that we identified in our robotic lawn mower test are:
Lumps and bumps: The simplest lawn for a robotic lawn mower to cut is completely flat. However, this is an ideal that the majority of lawns simply don't meet. Particularly in Sweden, where lawns are often allowed to retain a slightly more wild character. So it's common to encounter lumps and bumps – particularly small ones – which you don't necessarily think about before they cause problems; for example for your robotic lawn mower.
Gradients: Lawns often extend over inclined ground such as slopes, banks etc. Sometimes the gradient is minimal, sometimes it's severe. It's primarily major gradients that cause problems for robotic lawn mowers, even if the slope itself is short. Sloping ground is a challenge for robotic lawn mowers, and the majority of them can cope with a maximum 15° gradient. The best models can cope with 20-25°, which means that they are able to handle the majority of garden gradients.
Obstacles: Obstacles can be found in practically all gardens, and present the most common type of challenge for robotic lawn mowers.
There are many common obstacles, which include trees, fences, walls, posts, compost heaps, pots, bushes, roots, paths, patios, flower beds, flagpoles, statues, sandpits, raised vegetable beds, log piles, swings and trampolines. The challenges created by obstacles vary significantly in type and level of difficulty. The most common obstacles are also among the most easily managed and involve hard, uniform objects that stick straight up out of the lawn, such as trees and fences. All robotic lawnmowers should handle these with ease. More difficult obstacles are things like bushes, trampolines and swings if they are attached to the ground with planks. The roots of bushes can trap robotic lawn mowers, while they can easily get stuck in trampoline legs or any planks used to attach swings.
Surface: There are a number of different surfaces that provide major challenges for robotic lawnmowers, such as roots, gravel, loose earth/sand, newly planted grass, leaves, pine cones and clay. These all create a loose and/or slippery surface which it is easy for the robotic lawn mower's small wheels to get stuck in. To handle difficult surfaces efficiently therefore requires sufficiently large wheels with sufficiently effective patterns. Of course the width of the wheels also affects the terrain-handling capacity, but with the right pattern and a machine that's not too heavy the wheels can be kept surprisingly narrow.
Challenging cutting surfaces: There are a number of common cutting surfaces that are particularly demanding for robotic lawn mowers.
Narrow passages/bottlenecks are challenging for a robotic lawn mower as it doesn't have eyes and so can't see in which direction the passage goes. This means that the lawn mower finds it difficult to "find the right way" and instead moves from side to side in the passage. Intelligent robotic lawn mowers have been programmed to avoid this type of situation and to quickly escape. A common trick that many robotic lawn mowers use to guide themselves through narrow passages is to follow the perimeter wire for a certain distance from the base station or to follow a guide cable.
Sharp corners are often a problem as they risk causing the robotic lawn mower to "go off track" and cross the perimeter wire. A safe lawn mower stops by itself when it realises that it has left its "enclosure", but on the other hand it will remain stationary until the owner reactivates it.
Corner areas wth lots of obstacles can represent challenges as the lawn mower risks becoming "trapped" if it constantly collides with either the perimeter wire or the obstacles surrounding the corner. To avoid the robotic lawn mower wasting time in a corner therefore requires a sufficiently intelligent robot that can quickly work out an escape route.
Secondary areas are areas that are separate from the primary area but which must also be cut. For example, a secondary area could be the smaller lawn in front of a house with a big lawn (the primary area) in the back garden. Often the secondary and primary areas are connected by a narrow passage.
Robotic lawn mowers are not intended or designed to cope with long, coarse or wet grass. An overgrown lawn may therefore need to be cut with a conventional lawn mower before it becomes manageable for a robotic lawn mower. This applies particularly to small lawn mowers. Even if the lawn mower manages to force its way through the long grass, it often has to drive over the area several times in order to gradually cut the grass short. The lawn mower's wheels press the grass down each time it passes, which often results in the long grass gradually lying down rather than being cut. This particularly applies to robotic lawn mowers with pivoting blades, which are designed to give if they encounter too much resistance. Long and coarse grass is therefore one of the few areas where fixed blades are preferable to pivoting blades.
The Husqvarna Automower 315 is an extremely high performance, reliable machine that represents great value for money, which is why we have chosen it as our best in test for the second year in a row. Despite a price in the upper medium price band, the Automower 315 performs better than the majority of premium models. The mower’s primary strengths are its carefully considered design, which gives it very good terrain-handling abilities, and its exemplary problem solving ability. The Automower 315 can therefore cope with cutting the majority of types of lawn in a time-efficient and reliable manner. This includes a number of difficult environments with challenges such as irregular laying of the perimeter wire, many obstacles, troublesome surfaces, bumpy terrain, narrow passages, steep slopes and tall grass. The Automower 315 can cope with relatively steep slopes and adjusts its speed to the resistance it encounters so it can cut even tall grass. The wheels are kind to the grass but at the same time give a good grip on slopes and loose soil. One of our favourite functions is the patented guide cable, which doesn't merely prevent wheel marks from occurring along the perimeter wire but also improves cutting of more complex lawns.
Safety levels are excellent and the pivot blades cut the grass almost silently and in a low impact manner. Together with the quiet wheel motors, this gives the Automower 315 a very low noise level, and it can therefore even be operated at night without disturbing the neighbours. The pivot blades are also kind on fallen fruit and forgotten toys, which are thrown clear relatively undamaged rather than being crushed. An easily navigated menu system makes programming easy. However, it's still better to purchase the GSM module for Automower Connect (AMC), which is now available for the first time for the Automower 315. With AMC you can use an excellent app to control almost everything on your Automower from your mobile without even having to be near to the mower. This option really gives added value, and most people will find it worth the extra money. The user manual is extremely detailed and instructive, facilitating both installation and maintenance. The YouTube video with installation instructions is recommended. The design is stylishly exclusive, but the bodywork gets scratched easily. The installation kit in sizes S, M and L is sold separately, so that you can adapt the quantity of cable and staples to the size of your garden.
For the third year in a row, the Automower 430X (previously called the 330X) is unchallenged as the best performing robotic lawn mower in our test. No competitor comes close to the 430X's reliability and problem solving ability. This is particularly true of highly challenging environments such as very complex lawns with irregular perimeter wire laying, many obstacles, difficult terrain and narrow passages. The mower can even handle steep slopes, roots, loose surfaces, complicated corners and tall grass both intelligently and in a time-efficient manner. The only situation in which the 430X has difficulty coping is when it encounters obstacles on steep downward slopes. Then it can have problems reversing and changing direction. Installing the 430X is commendably easy, not least because it can cope with very complicated perimeter wire laying. Programming is straightforward, with an illuminated display and an easily navigated menu system.
The 430X has a "stealth"-like design, which is stylishly discreet and exudes exclusivity. The bodywork is easily scratched, and even though this doesn't affect the functionality, it can make it look a little drab. As an option, the 430X can support Husqvarna's industry-leading app, Automower Connect (AMC). It's definitely worth going for this option, as the app gives the user unsurpassed control over the robotic lawn mower. With the well-designed interface you can enter all commands and settings for the mower, regardless of where you are – providing you have mobile phone coverage. You can also receive alerts, for example if the robotic lawn mower has got stuck or left the theft protection area. If we were only basing our scoring on function and performance, the 430X would undoubtedly have been our test winner. But because we include affordability, it comes in a respectable second, and gets the "best premium choice" label.
The Gardena R100Li SILENO is a very good value for money robotic lawn mower in the lower medium price class range. Despite Gardena’s characteristic turquoise colour, the design feels discreet and tasteful. The shell conceals one of the most intelligent robots on the market. The SILENO also gets considerable assistance to cope with complex gardens from the patented guide cable. The guide cable helps the robotic lawn mower through narrow passages and other challenging environments, which can save a great deal of time and prevents wheel tracks from occurring along the perimeter wire. Another intelligent function is the charging station’s inbuilt antenna, which means that the robotic lawn mower can often take a shortcut home without having to follow the wire. These time-saving innovations mean that the SILENO can cope with a significantly larger area of grass, as it doesn't need to spend as much time taking itself to and from the charging station.
The SILENO has good terrain-handling capacities and copes with the challenges you could reasonably expect from a medium class model, such as loose soil, steep slopes and moderately uneven surfaces. The user interface is commendable with easy to navigate menus and a clear backlit display. However, the control panel is concealed by a protective cover which must be shut for the robotic lawn mower to execute a cutting command. The SILENO has excellent safety levels, with pivot blades that effectively cut the grass. At the same time these blades are kind to forgotten toys, fruit and similar objects which are thrown out of the way relatively undamaged. The pivot blades and the quiet wheel motors also mean that the robotic lawn mower can cut the grass at night without disturbing anyone’s sleep. The package includes plenty of cable and staples. The Gardena R100Li SILENO is best on medium to large lawns of normal to moderate difficulty.
The Automower 450X is Husqvarna’s new prestige model aimed at individuals and organisations with a substantial budget and requiring maximum reliability and a very high cutting capacity. In most areas, the 450X is identical to its considerably cheaper sister model, the 430X, but there are some differences. The biggest difference is in the significantly longer battery life, which for us averaged out to be even longer than stated in the specifications and gives an enormous cutting capacity. Like other models in the Automower series, the 450X supports Husqvarna’s patented guide cable. The guide cable releases the robotic lawn mower from having to follow the perimeter wire, makes possible time saving shortcuts and guides it through difficult areas. We got the robotic lawn mower to go through passages narrower than 80 cm. The 450X can also cope with more guide cables than any other model – a full three cables – which can lead to significant time savings on large, complicated areas of grass.
A further unique innovation intended to increase time efficiency and cutting capacity is the ultrasound sensor, which warns the robotic lawn mower of obstacles in front of it. This means that the 450X can maintain extra high speed on open areas, as it only slows when an obstacle approaches. Regardless of speed, the 450X is always quiet and can be used to advantage at night. This is when it’s useful to use the built-in headlights so that you don’t trip over the robotic lawn mower in the dark. The GPS function is great and gives some support, but could work even better. The GPS navigation can’t always cope with picking out secondary areas behind narrow passages without using the guide cable, and the stated GPS position can be wrong by a few metres. The 450X has very good terrain-handling abilities and coped with almost everything we exposed it to. The only situation where the 450X has problems is on very steep slopes with thin grass, which it can damage. The 450X has built-in support for Husqvarna’s excellent app Automower Connect (AMC), which enables you to manage everything from scheduling to adjusting the cutting height from your mobile. The design is discreet but unequivocally exclusive. Unfortunately the bodywork on all Automower models is relatively easily scratched. The 450X is the world’s most sophisticated robotic lawn mower, but is at its best on very large lawns such as parkland.
The Gardena R50 Li is an extremely good value for money budget class model which performs above its price class and thus is our best budget choice. Despite its budget price, this mower has a number of strengths that you'd normally associate with the premium class. Above all, the R50 has a remarkably good problem solving ability for a budget model, and it is clear that it has been endowed with Husqvarna's industry-leading AI. This means that, despite its limited size and small wheels, the R50 is skilful at extricating itself from troublesome situations, which makes it incredibly reliable. Instead, the R50's limitations are its terrain-handling capacity, as it requires a relatively standard surface. Large surface roots, deep drifts of leaves and loose soil will easily overcome its abilities.
The actual maximum gradient is in fact slightly higher than that stated in the specifications, but still moderate, so the garden mustn't slope too much. Safety levels are very good and installation is straightforward. However, we would have been happier if the guide cable – which in itself is an intelligent innovation – wasn't mandatory, as it feels a bit excessive on a small, very simple lawn. Programming is commendably easy as a result of clear instructions, an easily navigated menu system, a backlit display and the right number of buttons. The R50 is intended for small gardens and therefore has a moderate cutting width, which means a relatively slow work tempo. The low powered motor has very little cutting power and struggles with taller grass. As long as the lawn is kept short by means of regular cutting, this shouldn't be a problem. The R50 works so quietly that you can even use it at night without irritating your neighbours. This is a major advantage as it leaves the lawn free in the daytime.
The Israeli company Robomow is known for its large, heavy and powerful robotic lawn mowers. The MS1500 is no exception; it's a solid piece of kit. Both the motor and battery are generously proportioned, driving two fixed blades which have been curved to reduce the risk of deformation on collision. This works, but also leads to a relatively high noise level. The MS1500 can cut a lot of grass and cover large areas in a short time, if the conditions are right. However, it has a number of limitations which can cause problems. The MS1500 has difficulties with narrow passages, and even if it can get through one it often takes both time and battery power to do so. This leaves less running time for cutting secondary areas. The robot can also become confused by complicated corners. This is partially a consequence of the size of the lawn mower, but also of a limited AI. The lawn mower has to follow the perimeter wire home, which easily leads to wheel tracks along the wire. However, edge cutting is appreciated by many users.
Narrow passages and high grass sometimes lead to the lawn mower overheating and shutting down for a while to cool. If the grass is longer than 10 cm, the blade motors are easily overloaded and stop cutting because the MS1500 doesn’t slow down to let them catch up. Instead it simply runs along without cutting, simply flattening the grass. The programming is unnecessarily primitive as you can’t state the times at which it should cut, simply “low”, “medium” and “high”; it then cuts when it feels like it. The display is very small and the control panel is minimal, but this is salvaged by Robomow's app, which in many ways is innovative and exemplary. The majority of the manual is detailed and clear. Overall the Robowmow MS1500 is best at larger, uncomplicated lawns without narrow passages.
The Indego is a competitively priced mid-class model and Bosch has invested everything in this single robotic lawn mower. Installation is largely straightforward and is facilitated by Bosch's clear online instruction videos. The design is attractive and exudes the Bosch style. The pivoting blades are kind to forgotten toys, and together with a clear and easily accessible STOP button provide high safety levels. Programming is quite easy but rather time-consuming. The perimeter wire's signal unfortunately interferes with other robotic lawn mowers. The base station can't cope with much more than 200 m of perimeter wire, which makes it difficult to achieve the recommended maximum cutting area. The Indego can't handle isolated secondary areas and requires a full 4 m straight run for the base station, which makes positioning more difficult. The engine is silent but the wheels are unnecessarily noisy.
The Indego's cutting pattern is similar to that of a normal push lawn mower, with straight parallel lines. The idea is to save time by not cutting the same surface several times. In practice, this cutting technique makes no difference, and the cutting speed benefits more from the generous cutting width. Not least because of obstacles such as trees, trampolines and narrow passages. The Indego can cope with relatively steep gradients, but leaves tracks along the perimeter wire and slips easily on loose surfaces. It can cross the perimeter wire somewhat when it turns, so leave extra buffer space near water, slopes or platforms. Overall, the Indego is reasonably reliable with relatively good terrain-handling abilities. In relation to its price tag it performs well.
The Worx Landroid M is among the cheapest but also the most popular robotic lawn mowers on the market. It is quiet and has a powerful motor for a budget class machine. It is also capable of coping with moderately steep slopes. The robotic lawn mower's menu system is very easy to navigate and time-efficient. For those who are impatient to get on with cutting, the Landroid M can be used without pre-programming. For its price tag, the Landroid M has a normal problem solving ability, which is therefore relatively limited. So it's important that you follow the installation instructions carefully. However, even if you do there are situations in which the Landroid M could have been more intelligent. For example, the mower has to follow the perimeter wire very strictly as it returns to the charger, which increases the risk of it getting stuck on or being unable to pass flowerbeds, bushes etc., particularly after the perimeter wire has been in place for several seasons and things like bushes have grown.
This rigidity can also lead to wheel tracks being created along the perimeter wire. In addition, the perimeter wire can't be laid parallel with a slope as the mower sometimes escapes. When this happens, the Landroid M doesn't always realise that it has left its enclosure, and sometimes it runs a little way before it stops. We view this as extremely problematic from a safety viewpoint, even though it may not be an issue for all users. Manufacturers are constantly improving their robotic lawn mower's software so that they become more intelligent, and you can update the Landroid M yourself via a USB connection on the mower. The terrain-handling abilities are limited and the Landroid M requires a moderately even and firm surface so that it doesn't get stuck or slip. This is normal for the budget class, but means that the Landroid M must stick to smaller, simpler lawns.
The Viking MI 422 is a budget lawnmower for smaller lawns with good safety levels and a theoretically high cutting capacity. A plastic housing protects the control panel from the weather. There are many different levels of cutting height, so you can set it exactly to your own personal preferences. It’s also very easy to get started, thanks to clear instructions. Unfortunately, however, the MI 422 has both poor terrain-handling and problem-solving capacities, which result in frequent stoppages. Even on moderately undulating terrain, the MI 422 far too often comes to a halt with the error message “lift housing”. This is disastrous for reliability levels and is the MI 422’s only major weakness. To maximise safety levels, Viking have programmed the robotic lawn mower to temporarily stop the blades when it runs into common obstacles, such as the edges of flowerbeds and trees. After this it changes direction and runs for a few metres making a beeping noise before the blades start again.
This behaviour considerably reduces time efficiency and the beeping noise makes the MI 422 relatively noisy. If Viking is so concerned that the blades might injure somebody or damage something, it might have been better to replace the fixed blades with pivot blades. The “stop blades”, “turn” and “beep” procedure is repeated in the case of tall grass, which isn’t exactly effective cutting behaviour. To perform satisfactorily, the MI 422 needs a really easy lawn with even terrain and few or no obstacles. If you have one of these, the Viking MI 422 does its job.
*Viking claims that the MI 422s now on sale no longer have problems with the over-sensitive lift sensor or the robot changing direction along the perimeter wire on the way home.
The Viking iMow 632 is manufactured by the reputable German group Stihl, and is a premium robotic lawn mower primarily intended for larger lawns. Viking is relatively new to the robotic lawn mower market, and unfortunately this is clear from a number of teething problems. The installation process is unnecessarily complicated, with an eccentric programming system in which, for example, you have to enter when the mower can't cut rather than when it can. The installation is made more difficult by rigid rules for laying the perimeter wire and because the iMow 632 is easily confused. For example, the mower can unintentionally get stuck in a loop around an "island" when it's on the way back to the charging station. Other peculiarities include the robotic lawn mower stopping cutting while turning after having encountered the perimeter wire and the fact that it often runs for several metres from start before it starts cutting. Safety levels are high and the stop button is moderately accessible. Given that the iMow 632 has fixed blades, they are relatively quiet. However, just like other robotic lawn mowers with fixed blades, long, wet grass easily accumulates in the housing and makes the mower noisier. The iMow 632 also finds it difficult to run through narrow, oblong passages and it doesn't always realise when it's stuck, instead sitting helplessly in one position with its wheels rotating, which can damage the lawn. The instructions are good and, in addition to a relatively comprehensive user manual, there is also an installation guide video. If you succeed in dealing with the iMow 632's strict installation requirements, it also has acceptable reliability and can cope with cutting large grass areas. However, given Viking’s good reputation and the price tag we’d have rather seen more effective cutting and higher reliability.
The German company Wolf-Garten sells its own version of the Robomow RS630. The RS series is Robomow's most expensive mower, and falls into the premium price class. The major difference from Robomow's cheaper MC series is the higher battery capacity, which produces a longer runtime. This means that the robotic lawn mower can cope with cutting a larger surface, as it can cut for longer between charges. It also has a brushless blade motor, which should give the motor a longer lifetime. In general we have found no differences in performance compared with the MC series. The Robomow RS630 has a GSM module, but the ROBO Scooter 3000 lacks this. Compared with their competitors, Robomow's robotic lawn mowers tend to be giants, and the ROBO Scooter 3000 is also the heaviest in the test. Robomow's philosophy seems to be that robotic lawn mowers should be out cutting for as little time as possible. The ROBO Scooter 3000 therefore has two fixed blades and a strong motor, which can make short work of a lot of grass. And this is what it does, providing that the lawn isn't too difficult, with narrow passages, complicated corners, bumpy terrain or difficult surfaces. Grass that's too long can make it overheat, whereupon it shuts down until it has cooled. The ROBO Scooter 3000 has to follow the perimeter wire home, which can lead to wheel tracks along the perimeter wire. Like other large Robomow models, the ROBO Scooter 3000/RS630 is best on large, flat, uncomplicated lawns.
The Stiga Autoclip 225 S is a small robotic lawn mower for both small and large lawns. It has fixed blades but is actually relatively quiet. Despite its small size, it has what for this price class is a very generous battery life of up to 2 hours. This means it can cut your grass for longer before it has to take itself back to the charging station, which is a bigger advantage than you might think, particularly on large or complicated lawns, as it means that the lawn mower can set aside a relatively long time for finding its way home and still have plenty of cutting time. The 225 S has a medium problem solving ability and poor terrain-handling, which means that it requires even, straightforward terrain. It can cope with simple slopes but easily gets stuck on bumpy or uneven lawns.
The robotic lawn mower can also get stuck on trees that slope at the base, if these are not delimited by perimeter wire. On the positive side, it has a spiral cutting function which means that it starts to cut in an outward spiral if it encounters tougher cutting resistance. This is a very time-efficient way of cutting localised areas of tall grass. The setting options are very useful, including the number of working hours per day, secondary work areas and different starting points for cutting. However, the actual programming is time-consuming as the display and buttons are too rudimentary. In terms of price, the 225 S is mid-class, but in terms of performance it's more of a budget machine.
The Israeli company Robomow is among the oldest manufacturers of robotic lawn mowers, with more than 20 years of experience. Robomow is today characterised by large, heavy robotic lawn mowers which rely more on brute force than sophistication. The MS1000 is no exception; it's a solid piece of kit. Both the motor and battery are generously proportioned, driving two fixed blades which have been curved to reduce the risk of deformation on collision. This works, but also leads to a relatively high noise level. The MS1000 can cut a lot of grass and cover large areas in a short time, if the conditions are right. However, it has a number of limitations which can cause problems.
The MS1000 has difficulties with narrow passages, and even if it often gets through these it takes time – and battery power – to do so, which reduces the opportunities for dealing with secondary areas. The robot can also become confused by complicated corners. This is partially a consequence of the size of the lawn mower, but also of a somewhat mediocre AI. The lawn mower has to follow the perimeter wire home, which – together with the high machine weight – easily produces wheel tracks along the wire. Narrow passages and high grass sometimes lead to the lawn mower overheating and shutting down for a while to cool. The display is very small and the control panel is minimal, but this is salvaged by Robomow's new app, which in many ways is innovative and exemplary