The very first robotic lawn mower was invented in 1969, called the MowBot. Of course, the technology used back in the decade of love and peace was vastly less sophisticated than what we see today. It wasn’t until the mid 90s that robot mowers began being available to the public but again, they were not all that advanced and very uncommon in the domestic garden.
Fast forward to 2012 and robotic mowers were well established in the lawn care market with a model from Bosch being incredibly popular.
But mower manufacturers know that they have to move with the time and, as such, new technologies are constantly being developed. If you’ve ever used a robot mower, you’ll know that the boundary wire can be something of a problem but the latest approaches allow robotic mowers to navigate the garden without the need for a wire.
While this tech is still relatively new and UK buyers currently need to pre order some models, it’s never too early to jump on the bandwagon. In fact, with new systems looking very promising, I don’t think there’s been a better time to switch to robotic.
Whether you’re totally new to robot mowers or simply want to upgrade, this guide is for you. I’ve put together a wealth of information on the latest technology, what to expect and things to think about when you’re making a purchase.
Robot Lawn Mowers Without a Perimeter Wire
Robot lawn mowers without perimeter wires represent a significant advancement in the realm of automated garden maintenance within the UK. These state-of-the-art machines utilise sophisticated sensors, cameras and GPS-based navigation systems to manicure lawns without the necessity for physical boundary markers. This wireless approach offers a more aesthetically pleasing solution as it negates the need to install and maintain perimeter wires that can be a tripping hazard or suffer damage over time. Users can effortlessly programme the mower through a smartphone application or onboard controls to define the mowing area. The mower then intelligently maps the territory and adheres to the designated path, ensuring precise and uniform grass cutting. With obstacle detection capabilities, these autonomous mowers are able to circumvent garden features, pets, and unexpected objects, guaranteeing a safe and efficient lawn care experience.
What Are The Benefits of Using A Boundary Wire?
Before I dive into the ins and outs of the latest technology, I wanted to touch on what it’ll be replacing and whether it’s something you need in your garden.
Traditionally, robotic lawn mowers make use of a boundary wire which is laid around the perimeter of the lawn by the owner. The mower is programmed not to go past this wire and once it’s installed, there’s not much you have to do to it. Unless it breaks, which is one of the main reasons that getting rid of boundary wires is such a popular notion.
However, boundary wires do have their place within the robot mower world. For example, if you want to make some changes to your garden and redesign the shape of the lawn, it’s as simple as moving the wire. The wire sends signals back to the base and then to the mower so no matter where you place it, the mower will respond accordingly.
What’s more, troubleshooting tends to be much easier when you use a boundary wire. If something goes wrong then it’s pretty easy to see whether there is an issue with the wire and whether it needs to be adjusted or replaced.
As I’ve discussed, up until now, most robotic mowers have relied on a boundary wire to prevent them from mowing outside a specified area. This is a system that works relatively well but it isn’t without its flaws. For example, it’s not uncommon for the boundary wire to break during activities like lawn aeration or trimming. They can even be damaged by ground movement, animals and other things outside of your control.
So what’s the solution? Well, mower manufacturers have come up with two new and innovative ways for robotic mowers to move around and there isn’t a boundary wire in sight!
Real Time Kinematics (RTK)
Real time kinematics is a navigation system introduced to robot mowers in 2021 so it’s still an incredibly new concept. However, it’s one that’s been tried and tested and works extremely well. So well, in fact, that this form of GPS is accurate to within 2 cm.
Previously, this type of technology was used for things like agriculture and commercial work. It’s really exciting to see it being used for domestic mowers and the system will allow the robot to work out a very accurate map of your lawn.
The way it works is that, instead of using a single GPS tracker, as you’d find in any robot lawn mower for tracking, RTK mowers use a send GPS tracker located in the base. It’s this second tracker that gives the mower its accuracy and sends signals to the robot as it moves around. There is a separate aerial for this which may be located in one of several places depending on the product and this allows for a clear, uninterrupted line to the satellite, therefore improving accuracy.
Video Review of the Luba AWD 5000 RTK Robotic Mower
Another new system that we’re starting to see on robotic lawn mowers from companies like Toro, LawnMaster and Segway are visual or camera guided systems.
The Vision Fence system from Segway uses a wide angle lens camera that’s been programmed using real world experiences allowing it to detect objects in the garden and navigate the lawn freely and easily.
These systems not only allow the mower to detect obstacles but also give it a new level of intelligence. The camera allows the mower to know where it is, where to go next and create a map of the lawn.
While the camera detects the difference between surface textures such as the lawn and a path, there are also sensors that tell the mower the size of objects. For example, if the mower is approaching a plant, it would be able to tell the difference in size compared to the lawn and go around it.
The WORX Landroid Vision series of robot mowers is not yet available in the UK but there are plans to launch them here soon. I spoke to WORX in late April 2023 and they informed me that they are just ironing out some minor issues with the mower, before officially releasing the Vision range here in the UK later this year.
Video Review of the LawnMaster VBRM16 Camera Guided Robotic Mower
RTK vs Camera – Which Should You Buy?
Generally speaking, RTK is a much more efficient and reliable system when it comes to robot mower navigation. However, the one downfall of this is that a clear line is required to send and receive signals. If you have a sheltered lawn, perhaps with a lot of tree cover then this could mean that there are black spots that prevent the mower’s signals from being transmitted.
It’s also worth noting that, when you’re looking for a RTK mower, most manufacturers will have their own names for the system. For example, Husqvarna calls their RTK Exact Positioning Operating System (EPOS) whereas models made by Siga have an Active Guidance System (AGS). Despite the names, they all work in the same way.
While RTK is the preferred system for most, in situations where there are signal difficulties, vision guided mowers really come into their own. What’s great is that they do not rely on signals or wires but can still map out the garden and deliver a systematic mow to leave a clean and neat finish.
However, I should compare this to the accuracy of an RTK mower which is far less likely to randomly mow over the same area owing to the superior accuracy.
The Best New Wire Free Robot Lawn Mowers and Their Features
As things stand, there isn’t a massive choice of robot mowers with either RTK or camera systems purely because the technology is still quite new. I’m in no doubt that this is the future of robotic mowing and I’m really excited to be trying out some of the latest models.
I’ve got some fantastic upcoming YouTube videos showcasing the features of models such as the LUBA AWD 5000 and the Lawnmaster VBRM16. Both of these are excellent mowers and each relies on a different system.
The LUBA runs an RTK system and this top of the range technology is reflected in the price. Retailing at a cool £2800, this is on the more expensive end of the scale but you get some pretty impressive features. I’ll go into more detail in my LUBA AWD 5000 review but briefly, these are some of the features you can look forward to:
- Slopes up to 75%
- 5000 square metre coverage
- Suspension arms
- In wheel motors
- Easy app control
- Three sets of blades included
- All wheel drive
- Theft protection
- Up to 10 mowing zones
- All weather use
At the other end of the scale is the Lawnmaster VBRM16 which retails at just £299 and uses camera guidance. Now with that massive difference in price, one could be forgiven for thinking this wasn’t going to perform well at all. As with the LUBA, I’ll be doing a full Lawnmaster review so you can see everything it has to offer but even for the lower price, you still get a decent little mower.
It’s not packed with impressive features like the LUBA but it’s perfect for small gardens up to 100 square metres where owners want a simple and quick way to stay on top of lawn maintenance. The only real issue with this one is that you may need to adjust the lawn perimeter by adding a distinguishable boundary such as a raised border, gravel or a fence.
There of course other brands of wireless robotic mower, including the range of Stiga autonomous robot mowers – the STIGA A 5000, STIGA A 3000 and the STIGA A 1500 range. Again these use and enhanced GPS signal to increase the accuracy of the mower down to 2cm.
Robotic Mower Technology Happening Now for 2024
Boundary Wireless Robotic Mowers FAQs
Do all robot mowers need boundary wires?
No, new technology means that the boundary wire could soon be a thing of the past. While there are still many robot mowers that use boundary wires, manufacturers are now introducing wireless options which will be available in 2023.
Which brands make robot mowers without a boundary wire?
At the moment, the number of wireless robotic lawn mowers on the market is not large. This is still new technology and, as such, only a few manufacturers have jumped on board so far. These include Husqvarna, Stiga and Mammotion for RTK mowers as well as Segway, Toro and Lawnmaster who make mowers with camera guidance.
How does a boundary wireless robot mower work?
Robot mowers without a wire work in one of two ways. Firstly, there is the Real Time Kinematics system which relies on satellites in a similar, but more advanced way to GPS. Secondly, there are robotic mowers that are fitted with cameras that essentially act as eyes, preventing it from bumping into things or moving out of the mowing zone.
Will my robotic lawn mower cross my driveway?
No, the new boundary wireless robotic lawn mowers are intelligent enough to detect where they are within a 2 cm accuracy and determine where they need to go next. This makes it easy for them to stay within the mowing zone.
When were boundary wireless robotic mowers invented?
Boundary wireless robot mowers are still a very new concept and were only introduced to the market last year. In 2023, UK buyers can now purchase and pre-order the latest models.
Why would I want to get rid of a perimeter wire?
One of the main reasons that boundary wireless mowers look set to take the world by storm is they are much more low maintenance. When you install a boundary wire, there is a risk of it being damaged by things like ground movement, animals and other things. This means regularly adjusting or replacing the wire.
I know there’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing a robotic lawn mower, but it really is worth taking the time to weigh up your options. If you’re still unsure, I have lots of helpful information throughout this website to make it easier for you. Why not try out my tool where you can simply enter your requirements and I’ll recommend the best matched mowers for you. Together, we’ll find a great lawn mower for you and your garden!
As a seasoned expert in the field of garden power tools, I have dedicated over a decade to working with and reviewing a wide variety of lawn mowers. My extensive experience has allowed me to gain a deep understanding of the benefits and limitations of different types of mowers and garden tools.
Over the years, I have honed my skills in writing informative articles and creating helpful videos for various blogs and publications. This has given me the ability to not only recognise what makes a good lawn mower, but also to help you choose the perfect garden tool for your specific needs and requirements.
With my wealth of knowledge and expertise, I am confident that I can provide you with valuable insights and recommendations when it comes to selecting the right lawn mower for your lawn. So, whether you're looking for a battery cordless, electric, petrol, or robotic mower, you can trust in my expertise to guide you towards the best option for your garden.