Photo courtesy of Husqvarna
Dads (and kids and moms, too) rejoice -- you're no longer pulling lawn mowing duty. A 22-pound (12-kilogram) robot can do it for you, whether you're home, away or rained out, for around $3,000. It's kind of like a Roomba but bigger and with three razor-sharp blades. A sign of the mow-pocalypse? Nope, just a sign of lawn maintenance going green.
The Husqvarna Automower Solar Hybrid, designed at the Husqvarna Global Design Centre in Sweden, is a robotic hybrid lawn mower. There are four main components to the automower: its body, charging station, transformer and wire. Its body is made from 90 percent recyclable materials and it's similar in size (although not in shape) to a piece of carry-on luggage, measuring at 28 by 21.7 by 11.8 inches (71 by 55 by 30 centimeters). In comparison, the dimensions of an acceptably sized piece of carry-on luggage are 9 by 14 by 22 inches (23 by 35 by 56 centimeters) [source: United]. The robot is dark grey, too -- again, probably like your luggage.
What makes this mower a hybrid is that while it relies on a rechargeable NiMH 18V battery, it also gets energy from the 12-watt photovoltaic solar cell panel attached to its back. It uses no fuel or oil as a power source. When the sun is shining, the mower uses solar energy instead of battery power. When the battery does need a little juice, the mower automatically finds its way to the charging station via a signal emitted by the station. The mower senses the signal when it's within 20 to 23 feet (6 to 7 meters) of the station. The charging station is electrically powered and connects to a transformer that in turn plugs into a 120-volt wall socket. Overall, the setup uses about the same amount of energy as a standard incandescent light bulb, and adds anywhere from $12 to $25 to your annual electricity bill.
While it may have a lighter footprint than a conventional lawn mower, it doesn't lack in features.