Robot mowers have come a long way in the last few years. Starting off as a bit of a novelty, they’ve advanced to become a pretty standard fixture at home and garden stores around the country.
A big part of the advancement is how these robot mowers now navigate their surroundings. Early models used the traditional guide wire system that was buried in the ground. The mower itself had very basic sensors to detect obstacles, but not much else.
Fast forward to today and modern mowers have advanced cameras and sensors that analyze their surroundings in real time.
The goal of all of this is to create a robot mower with essentially zero installation time. That means you unbox the mower, set it down, and press a button and it can instantly navigate your lawn.
Several modes are close to this reality using their advanced vision system and below we’ll look at the three big players pushing the boundaries of what a robot mower can do.
Segway Navimow Series
Segway made a name for itself many years ago with the release of its original two-wheeled scooter that completely balanced on its own. It was quite revolutionary at the time and the technology has been used in many different types of products and devices since then.
Today, Segway licenses its name to several manufacturers, and that’s the case with the Navimow. The mower itself is made by a Chinese manufacturing firm and the Segway name is used through a licensing agreement.
The Navimow line has three mowers. The H500E, the H800E, H1500E, and H3000E. These are virtually identical in their technology and the only difference is the lawn size they are designed for.
The vision technology used by Navimow is what they call their VisionFence system. It’s a combination of wide-angle video cameras, software algorithms in the mower, and GPS/RTK technology.
RTK or real-time kinematics is what many of the latest vision mowers use. This allows them to be far more precise than GPS alone. Under optimum conditions, RTK can be accurate to within centimeters.
This also means you’ll need to place an antenna base unit somewhere on your lawn. It has to be out in the open and unobstructed by trees or structures.
Once the antenna is placed, you then have to map your lawn. The process is all done via the included app. It’s a simple process but it does take time and goes a bit slowly compared to the marketing materials. Part of it involves controlling the mower via your phone as you drive it around your lawn to set the boundaries even more closely.
It’s not difficult, but it does take some time and you will need to do a test run after the initial boundary mapping.
From there, the onboard cameras deal with any unexpected obstacles, which it does a good job of. Some vision mowers are slow to respond to obstacles and make exaggerated movements around them, leaving lots of uncut grass.
The Navimow did a good job of sensing objects on the fly and making a tidy path around them.
Overall, this is a good vision mower and employs the latest technology. We did have some issues with the app, which seems behind its competitors. We would like to see an improved app to match the slick mower.
Worx Landroid Vision Series
Worx has built a strong reputation for building quality robot mowers at an affordable price. Their Landroid Vision model is no different and it’s a great addition to the market.
The Worx Landroid does not require a base antenna like many models that use 4G/RTK technology. So if your lawn can’t accommodate an antenna due to trees or buildings, the Worx Landroid is a nice alternative.
It does use additional RFID tags which can be placed around certain zones to either include them or exclude them. So there is a way to create virtual boundaries, whether permanently or temporarily.
Other than that, the Worx mower uses cameras and a suite of sensors to detect obstacles and boundaries.
The vision system works well for most simple lawn layouts. You may need to tweak some of the boundaries via the app for complex lawns, but the Worx app is one of the best in the industry and is very easy to use.
The Worx Landroid also uses a unique edge-to-edge cutting technology that gets extremely close to the boundaries, often needing no trimming afterward. The Navimow on the other hand requires that this edge detection be done manually. So the Worx wins when it comes to edging.
What’s also nice about choosing the Worx mower is the batteries work with many of their tools or other lawn and garden equipment. If you already have Worx tools, this can be a great option.
Overall, the vision system in the Worx Landroid Vision series is one of the easiest to set up and we liked the app the most among all the contenders in this price range. Worx also is a reputable brand with a generous warranty which counts a lot when so many new companies are entering the robot mower space.
Heisenberg LawnMeister H1
Heisenberg is likely a name you’ve never heard of and they are new to the lawn and garden industry. However, they do have a background in robotics and have been building automated systems for factories and industry for many years.
The LawnMeister H1 uses a hybrid approach of GPS/RTK along with onboard cameras to try to eliminate some of the issues with using GPS/RTK.
In testing, the LawnMeister vision system worked well and detected objects easily, and then made accurate adjustments to its own path without leaving large uncut areas while doing so. Overall, setting up the mower and vision performance was nearly identical to the Segway. Set-up time was a bit faster though with the LawnMeister.
One unique aspect of the LawnMeister is that it has a modular design. You can add a leaf blower, edger, and even a fertilizer dispenser. The onboard camera can detect yellow lawn spots as it travels and then dispense some fertilizer or patch product to the area.
We’ve never seen anything like it and it’s pretty clever. Although, the leaf blower is underpowered for most tasks other than very light clearing of clippings or a few leaves. The edger did work well for cleaning up areas and providing a nice, tidy cut.
Unfortunately, the LawnMeister is currently in the middle of an intellectual property dispute and they are no longer accepting orders. It’s a shame because some units had already started shipping and more were becoming available in the summer of 2023.
According to Heisenberg, the dispute is over the mower’s name and has nothing to do with any technology used by their robot mowers
Hopefully, they get this sorted out quickly and it can start selling again, perhaps under a new name. We thought the modular design was clever and would like to see them build on this concept if possible.
Segway vs Worx vs Heisenberg Final Verdict
Update: The Novabot is another recently released robot that uses computer vision, along with GPS/RTK, to navigate your lawn. This combination gives it the ability to continue working even when satellite signals are blocked.
Considering all factors, we have to go with the Worx Landroid Vision Series as our overall winner. The Segway did have slightly more advanced technology in the vision department. The Lawnmeister also had more features and options, but the Worx edged them out in ease of use, quality, and utility.
However, for tech buyers who like to be on the cutting edge (no pun intended), the Segway and LawnMeister may be more appealing and worth the trade-off. So there is definitely a market for those mowers among homeowners who want to be early adopters of the latest and greatest tech.
But as an overall recommendation, we have to go with the Worx. Its vision system is solid and the easiest of them all to set up. The included app, which you’ll be using a lot with any robot mower, is one of the best in the industry.
Worx has a strong reputation and you can easily get spare parts if needed, sometimes even at your local home store. That’s important as blades for robot mowers are not like traditional mower blades and cannot be sharpened. Being able to easily order replacement blades or wheels is something to be strongly considered when making a purchase like this.
Finally, the batteries can be swapped with your other Worx tools. The other mowers in this lineup use proprietary batteries. They worked well in our testing, but we don’t know how easy getting a replacement will be years down the road.
For all those reasons, even though we loved the Segway tech and the LawnMeister modular approach, the Worx Landroid Vision is our overall winner in this battle of the robot mowers.