LawnBott: a Roomba for your backyard?

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

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.

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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