"There's a tendency to think that maybe if we can just throw enough hardware at the AI problem, then evolution can take care of the rest. Certainly that's how God went about making us."
Simak was about sixty years ahead with this one, as far as commercial robotic lawn mowers are concerned.
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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