This is a “drop and go” mower for a fraction of the price of the other truly autonomous mowers on this list.
You only need to enter “robot fails” into Google to see the many and, frankly, hilarious videos of hapless robots that haven’t been up to the task they’ve been created for.
From Sophia, the AI talking bot, who claimed she would “destroy humans” during an interview, to the many attempts to replicate a human walking that have resulted in robots staggering around like they’ve had one too many during their last software update.
Robot mowers, on the other hand, are a resounding success story and are getting more sophisticated and capable of keeping your lawn trim without you having to lift a finger.
Some machines still require the laying of boundary wire and locating and connecting a charging station, but there is an increasing number of “drop and go” machines available that are almost entirely autonomous, relying on cameras and AI to enable them to do everything else.
Regardless of how the machines navigated, we needed to test two major metrics. First, we wanted to know how manoeuvrable the mower was around the garden, did it have the ability to get out of sticky situations (like a rather nasty, gnome-based tangle) without us having to come to its aid; or was it equipped with the tech smarts to avoid getting stuck in the first place.
Secondly, in what condition did it leave the lawn and how did the finish compare with traditional manual mowing. All the mowers on test were mulchers, because they can’t drag a grass box around with them, so, any clippings are returned to the lawn to self-fertilise the soil.
When it comes to taking over the chore of mowing the lawn, these are definitely the droids you’re looking for – offering a healthy-looking lawn and navigation so good it won’t terrorise the family tortoise.
How we tested
Mowers can be tricky to test without having access to the grounds of a country house, so testing involved finding willing homeowners to lend us their lawns, so we could find out just how good the mowers are. This gave us ready access to all sizes of lawn, from half a tennis court upwards of three or four – whatever size the lawn, we wanted the cut to resemble Centre Court at the start of Wimbledon.
We set up a tricky obstacle course, which included permanent obstacles, such as a hard path and a fish pond, as well as some less permanent ones, such as footballs, a garden hose and a fake tortoise.
As always, we also looked at the price of each product to assess its price-quality ratio.
The best robot mowers for 2023 are:
- Best robot mower overall – LawnMaster VBRM16 lawnmower: £349.99, Cleva.com
- Best drop-and-go model – Worx landroid vision L1600 lawnmower: £2,399,99, Worx.com
- Best for compact gardens – Gardena sileno minomo lawnmower: £694.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best value for money – Flymo easilife go 250: £568, Amazon.co.uk