LawnBott: a Roomba for your backyard?

This robotic lawnmower can come out to work while you're away.

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Don't like to mow during the dog days? The electric LawnBott – a device from Paradise Robotics that looks like the child of R2D2 and a tiny Ferrari – can roam a yard solo, its mulching blades whirring quietly, then dock and recharge until its timer awakens it.

We wondered whether the one we tested (a $2,500 Evolution model) would know a dandelion from a dog, and what patterns it would leave in its Roomba-style meanderings. We ran its boundary wire around a 20-by-40-ft. patch of lawn, staking it flush every 10 feet. Then we placed the 22-lb. machine inside.

LawnBott advanced to the wire, spun around, and set off. At one point it mowed in circles, grazing outward from a tuft we wondered if it would cut later (it did). LawnBott found the wire again and cut it – ching! – stopping and chirping helplessly. We rewired, staking every three feet to account for unevenness. Later, we plopped a bag of compost in front of the LawnBott to approximate a dozing retriever; LawnBott bumped and swiveled away.

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After 35 minutes LawnBott's cut appeared even, with no discernible lines. Then it powered down, no gas or oil used, no neighbors disturbed. We wanted to offer it a lemonade.

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