TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - You've heard of robot vacuums. Now you're starting to see robot lawn mowers on the market. But is the cost worth the benefit? We took a look at a company offering them as a subscription service to see if a robotic mower cuts it.
Brandon Hanna-Metz gave it try and fired it up to show us at his Tampa home. "I'm pretty busy with my job so I'm willing to pay what I can to have technology do that for me."
The mower-bot buzzed slowly along the front yard, then easily traveled over the driveway and to the next patch of grass.
The mowers run automatically on a schedule, with the goal of a forever freshly cut lawn.
Installation can be a bit of work. You have to tack down low-voltage wire to create an invisible fence. That's where Robin AutoPilot is hoping to cash in.
"We take robotic mowers from different manufacturers and sell to consumers on a subscription basis versus going to Lowes and buying one for $3,000 and having to install it yourself," explained franchise owner Logan Fahey.
Right now, they're installing the mowers for free and then charge $19 a week and $76 a month, or $29 a week and $126 per month once you get above an acre.
Edging, weed whacking, and fertilizing – by humans – costs extra. Robots can't do that, yet.
"In Europe, two million are operating. One in four mowers is robotic. And we said, ‘North America it’s time for this, and time to launch it’," Fahey explained.
The mowers run on battery for two or three hours a day.
"So there's two stainless steel blades,” Fahey continued. “You can get three different models depending on the size of your lawn.”
We watched as it bumped into a fire pit and chairs, turned easily and cruised away, only to bump into a fountain, and then adjusted accordingly and kept on with its work.
"The mowers are pretty resilient,” Fahey offered. “When they run into a problem, an area that's tough, they stop they back up go around and come back. If the mower gets stuck, the GPS lets us know and we send out a crew to fix it."
The blade stops if you lift the robot. And the robot apparently stops traffic.
"I had a lot of people stopping and watching and taking pictures. It was kind of like I was a little celeb on the street with the mower running around," Hanna-Metz chuckled.
Eventually, the mowers return to base to recharge -- technology letting you recharge and get the yard work done at the same time.
LINK: Learn more at www.robinautopilot.com