Husqvarna Automower Long-Term Trial, Post 4

On the pros and cons of all-weather operation…

Last night was a doozy of a storm, with strong winds, a tornado watch, hail warnings, and now the threat of floods in low-lying areas.

Aftermath of last night’s storm: one of the many downed tree limbs in our neighborhood.

I was woken up around 5:30AM by the sound of wind and rain pelting our house. Among my thoughts was, “I wonder how Dobby is doing?” We have Dobby, the Husqvarna Automower 450X, programmed to mow* each morning from 5AM to 9AM, rain or shine, so it should be out mowing in this godawful weather.

I went to the window and could barely make out a little gray lump trundling busily around our back yard. “Cool,” I thought, and went back to bed.

A few hours later, as I was leaving to go to work, I took a few photos that reveal a downside to Dobby’s OCD-like dedication. We have an area in our back yard that doesn’t get sun and our dog has worn a track in it down to the dirt. When it rains hard, this area gets muddy. Dobby, dutiful to a fault, attempts to mow this area and ends up getting covered in mud, tracking it all over the yard.

A filthy Dobby.
The muddy patch behind/under the slide. Note Dobby’s many tiny tracks. :-) Maybe if a volcano suddenly erupted nearby, in a 100 million years, future beings might find those tracks, fossilized, and conclude that Earth was once inhabited by a race of sentient, wheeled robots.

Below are two photos showing another area of the yard. On the left is a strange wheel track that seems to be developing in the yard. On the right, you can see the globs of mud that Dobby deposited on the driveway (I assume they fell off his wheels).

LEFT: Beginnings of a permanent track in the yard? RIGHT: Dobby left a muddy mess. Bad Dobby!

So, the upside of Dobby’s all-weatherness is that the grass gets mowed no matter what’s happening precipitation-wise. The downside is that, if you have some periodically muddy areas, the Automower can get pretty filthy. Later, I’ll see about cleaning him off. Despite being weatherproof, I’m not supposed to spray him down, so we’ll have to see what makes sense.

Aside: It makes me a little sad, but I’m going to stop referring to Dobby as “Dobby the Mowbot.” It seems that there’s another robot lawnmower out there called “Mowbot,” and I don’t want anyone to be confused as to what Dobby actually is. Sorry…I really like “mowbot” as a generic term. Hopefully, someday, it will become like “refrigerator” or “kleenex” and be recognized as a generic term for a category of products. And no, nobody from Husqvarna brought this issue up.

*Technically, the 450X doesn’t necessarily mow all four hours every morning. It goes and does a check to see if mowing is necessary; if not, it returns home until the next morning.

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