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Saturday, 21 March, 1998, 00:39 GMT
It's a lot less bover than a normal mower
The Robomow
Box of tricks: The Robomow cuts the lawn while you take a rest
It's every armchair gardener's dream - a lawnmower that cuts the grass on its own.

Thanks to the Robomow, there's no need to get in a sweat with all that pushing and pulling, and emptying grass cuttings.

Billed as the world's first fully-robotic, intelligent lawnmower, it will do all the hard work while you recline in the sun lounger sipping a glass of Pimms and lemonade.

It certainly drew astonished glances from the crowds at this year's Ideal Home Exhibition in London, where the Robomow was launched.

Compact and stylish,
Compact and stylish, but the machine is not cheap
Using a sophisticated electronic navigation system developed by the Israeli military, Robomow promises to make light work of cutting the lawn.

Its boundaries are set by an electric wire which is laid along the borders of a garden, and around any flowerbeds that might get in the way.

Even a lazy dog which chooses to fall asleep in the middle of the lawn is safe from Robomow's cutting blades. The machine uses sensors to detect obstacles and waits five seconds for them to move.

If Fido is feeling particularly defiant, then the mower simply backs off and skirts around the edge of the obstruction.

Electronic brain
The Robomow is guided by an on-board electronic brain
At 999 ($1.640) the luxury of never having to mow your lawn doesn't come cheap.

"There are some people who actually enjoy cutting the grass and Robomow is probably not for them," admits Annabel Kessler, of Friendly Machines UK Ltd, which markets the machine in Britain.

"But for others it's a dream come true. Some haven't got the time to mow their law; some just don't like it; and others can't because they are disabled or too old.

"This is the first of its kind in the world and its revolutionary. We are launching it in the UK first but there is big potential for this around the world."

Docking station
A docking station for the mower will be launched later this year
Working on rechargeable batteries, the Robomow can cover about 800sq m of lawn in one go, roughly the area of three tennis courts. Instead of a grass box it shreds grass finely and returns the cuttings to the lawn.

Friendly Machines is so pleased with the hi-tech self-navigating system it plans a host of other "Robo" devices.

In the pipeline is a robotic golf trolley and a little further away is the robotic vacuum cleaner.

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