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"If we're going to be consistent and advocate freedom of speech we have to advocate freedom of encrypted speech too. The genie is out of the bottle, cryptologically."
- Neal Stephenson

Robot Lawn Mower  
  An automated lawn mower.  

Simak was about sixty years ahead with this one, as far as commercial robotic lawn mowers are concerned.

Gramp Stevens sat in a lawn chair, watching the mower at work, feeling the warm, soft sunshine seep into his bones. The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen, made a neat turn and trundled down another swath. The bag holding the clippings bulged.

Suddenly the mower stopped and clicked excitedly. A panel in its side snapped open and a cranelike arm reached out. Grasping steel fingers fished around in the grass, came up triumphantly with a stone clutched tightly, dropped the stone into a small container, disappeared back into the panel again. The lawn mower gurgled, purred on again, following its swath.

From City, by Clifford Simak.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1944
Additional resources -

This fictional mower will even sense and cut around obstacles in its path.


(Robomow robotic lawn mower)

So does the Robomow, a fully autonomous robotic lawn mower. It uses a three-blade system, and cuts a twenty-one inch swath. This quiet, rechargeable mower uses a Triple-Chamber-Mulching system so you don't need to empty the bag full of clippings (unlike Simak's fictional mower). However, it does identify obstacles (including children and grandparents in lawn chairs) and cuts around them.

Once you've run a wire around your yard, and set Robomow's schedule, you're done with yard work for the summer. Robomow cuts in a series of zigzag lines to cover your entire lawn; it also has an "edge mode" to cut along the edge of your lot.

I happen to have a neighbor with one of these, and they seem to work quietly and unobtrusively. Take a look at a short video showing Robomow in action.

You might also want to take a look at the article on the robot gardener from War Veteran, a 1955 Philip K. Dick story. Also, agricultural robots are growing in importance; see AgBots: Agricultural Robots Take The Field.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from City
  More Ideas and Technology by Clifford Simak
  Tech news articles related to City
  Tech news articles related to works by Clifford Simak

Robot Lawn Mower-related news articles:
  - LawnBott Robotic Lawn Mower Bows To Cell Phones
  - RG3 Robotic Greens Mower Is Sensor-Equipped
  - Robotic Lawn Mower Competition Won By CWRU Cutters
  - Honda's Miimo Robotic Lawn Mower On Sale
  - Robotic Lawnmower Fulfills SciFi Homeowner's Dreams
  - Robotic Lawn Mower Powered By Sun, Arduino
  - Hundreds Of Robot Lawnmowers Invade Texas Town
  - Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD

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