Long ago, the lawn mower was a gateway to entrepreneurship for many ambitious young Americans, teaching lessons about the material benefits that accrue from hard work and industriousness. For a few adults, the meditative pleasures of taming an acre of unruly St. Augustine while atop a plush riding mower are unequaled by any other behind-the-wheel experience. For most of us, though, cutting grass is an onerous task, one that’s often outsourced but can now be assigned to a device with a mind of its own.
Husqvarna’s new Automower 450XH is an app-controlled lawn tyrant that can negotiate 24-degree slopes and mow a medium or large-sized yard (up to 1.25 acres) with quiet precision, rain or shine. As agile around obstacles as a nervous ground squirrel, the 450XH is guided in random patterns via a GPS system that maps the yard. Obstacles and tight spaces are no sweat. Its territory is established by a simple network of sub-surface wires, best installed by the dealer, that ensures the mower stays within its boundaries and doesn’t stray down the block or into your cutting garden.
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After a few hours’ work zigzagging, the machine has groomed an entire lawn. Three pivoting blades are placed to prevent cut fingers and nibble just fractions of an inch of grass, distributing micro-clippings that fertilize the lawn rather than suffocate it. Engineered to produce only 63 dB of noise, the battery-operated 450XH automatically docks itself at its charging station when low on juice. PIN-code setup and smartphone-viewable GPS thwart theft, and it squeals like a piglet if lifted off terra firma without its owner’s intervention.
About the size of a juvenile Galápagos tortoise (28 inches long), the machine takes orders via Amazon Alexa and Google Home, though to date we have not been able to get it to bring us a beer.