Many of man’s greatest inventions have resulted in the elimination of time-consuming chores. Our primitive ancestors invented the wheel to help move caveman stuff from point A to point B. Tools helped build things, and they learned to master the power of fire to cook and stay warm.
This country’s industrial revolution took place in the late 1800s and lasted over 50 years. During that time, Man harnessed electricity for powering lights and rudimentary household items. They developed a communication device that used sound waves so they didn’t have to write letters and wait for the Pony Express to deliver them. Motorized vehicles replaced horses, eventually combining the two and leading to annoying telephone calls about your car’s warranty.
In the last 50 years, Man has spent most of his time improving on those original inventions. A cord no longer tethers us to our wall phone. Using film to capture Kodak moments is a thing of the past. We no longer need a physical record, CD, or radio to listen to music. There is more computing power in our mobile phones than in the Apollo 11 Command Module that got us to the moon and back.
A few years ago, many jumped at the chance to own a robot vacuum cleaner. What a marvel of modern convenience! It has flaws and drawbacks compared to a regular vacuum, but I don’t think it was conceived to replace that device, only supplement it.
When our parents migrated from the concrete jungle of Brooklyn in the ‘60s for the lush, green lawns of Long Island, our fathers had minimal experience in mowing lawns. But they grew to love that once-a-week lawn-cutting task that produced a satisfying result. When I was old enough to take over the lawn cutting, I prided myself on making straight “lines” on each pass.
As we kids grew older, lawn maintenance became more of a chore. Unlike smoking, you couldn’t just stop doing it. The grass grew a little higher every day from the beginning of Spring to sometime in the Fall. If you refused to cut it, someone else had to.
This gave rise to a relatively new occupation – landscaping.
Landscaping became so popular that few Boomers are cutting their lawns anymore. Other than “new” homeowners, many of us have turned to landscapers for our weekly upkeep. They cut, trim, edge, blow, and sweep the entire thing in about 20 minutes. Since our kids are grown, and no neighborhood kids come around anymore with lawnmowers to make some scratch, what’s our option?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the robot lawnmower. Think Roomba, only with a sharp blade that will cut your hand off.
Now, for a price, you can buy a robot lawnmower. But be forewarned; this technology is not “plug-and-play.” If you need your kids or grandchildren to assist you in setting up Netflix or Bluetooth speakers, this might not be the miracle machine you envision.
Unlike your robot vacuum, which runs willy-nilly around your house until it bumps into something, then turns around and goes in another direction, robot mowers need to “learn” the boundaries of your yard. Instead of a wheel to pick up crumbs and dog hair, they have cutting blades, not unlike traditional lawnmowers, and cut everything in their path – including your petunias and vegetable garden.
The low-end mower bots (under $1,000) need a wire run around your property to “guide” them. The more expensive devices will set you back over three grand. Those require programming and use GPS technology to navigate different sections of your yard. That requires connecting to a satellite via an antenna transmitter placed somewhere on your property without trees.
It seems these robot lawnmowers might be more suited for our kids or grandkids, to be honest. They require an App on your phone that acts as a joystick to pilot it around the yard the first time so it “learns” where the boundaries are. I’ve tried navigating a remote-controlled car with my kids on my driveway in the past, and every one of them ended up in the street or upside down.
For that same $3,000 price tag, my landscaper will take care of my lawn for four years. And even if you manage to program the robot not to destroy your flower bed or end up in the street, it will only cut your grass.
Who will trim, edge, blow, and sweep away the remaining debris? Wake me up when they make a robot that can do that.