Automower Passage Mode: How Does It Work?
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent hours searching the Internet for what’s behind the passage mode or Husqvarna Automowers’ automatic passage detection. If so, you’ve finally come to the right place. For a long time, I didn’t really understand what exactly is meant by this, how it works, and that there are also certain misunderstandings about how it works. That’s why I want to explain everything to you here. What is the Automower Passages mode? The passage mode is also called automatic passage detection and enables the robotic mower to drive through very narrow passages when moving towards a target via the guide wire in search mode. While the robotic mower normally drives slightly offset from the guide wire, it abandons this tactic in passage mode and orients itself directly on top of the boundary wire instead. Misunderstandings sometimes arise here. There are also a few things to keep in mind so that the passage mode works really well when you connect several different surfaces together. I will explain this in more detail in the following sections.
This is What the Automatic Passage Recognition is All About
The specific term that Husqvarna uses is actually “Automatic Passage Recognition.” The term “Passage Mode” is also misleading in that it is not a mode that can be turned on or off. The Auto Passage Detection is used to enable the Automower to drive through narrow passages in Search Mode, even when driving next to the guide wire. The search mode is a separate mode. Husqvarna Automower is equipped with at least one or more guide wires that are connected to the charging station. These guide wires can be used to set waypoints, known as remote start points, which the mowing robot can then drive to. These remote start points are especially useful if you have several lawns that are only connected by a narrow passageway. You can define such a point on each lawn area. You can then program the mowing robot so that at certain times the robot moves to this remote starting point or area via the guide wire. In order to prevent the formation of tracks along the guide wire, the mowing robot does not always travel exactly on the guide wire, but at a distance next to the guide wire which it constantly changes. This is a hindrance in bottlenecks, because if the guide wire is laid centrally through the passage, the mower would then drive against the edge.
You can also determine how often the mowing robot should mow there. This is best done depending on the size of the area. You can also find the corresponding setting via Installation, Lawn coverage, Area 1 and then How often? There you can choose whether the remote start point should be approached frequently, occasionally, or rarely.
To Create a Passage
A passage can be created relatively easily. First lay the boundary wire left and right along the passage and then run it around the adjacent area. Make sure that there is always at least 24 inches of space between the boundary wires.
Lay the guide wire right through the middle of this passage. Again, make sure that there is at least 12 inches of space on both sides, otherwise the Automower will not be able to pass through the passage properly.
Possible Problems with Bottlenecks
The Automower detects narrow passages in search mode and deliberately does not react very sensitively to the boundary wire. As long as it’s in search mode, everything here usually works fine. However, a problem can arise if the mowing robot in normal mowing mode accidentally drives into the passage. The robotic mower is in no way prevented from entering the passage in mowing mode, which can still make narrow passages a problem – despite the existence of “passage mode”.
This can cause the mowing robot to get tangled up in the passage for quite some time, because it constantly drives back and forth in the narrow passage and is simply completely disoriented. It is also not uncommon for passages to be formed between areas where the passages themselves do not have any grass at all, but instead have, for example, pavement slabs, cobblestones, asphalt or the like. So it would be a waste of time if the robotic mower was constantly tinkering back and forth on this passage to “mow” everything there.
How’s the robot supposed to know there’s nothing to mow? This problem can be solved in two ways.
- A: skillful routing of the cable at the entrance to the passage, so that the probability of accidental entry is minimized
- B: Installation of a so-called passage circuit or tunnel circuit
To prevent your mowing robot from accidentally driving into the passage, you can use this very simple trick when laying the boundary wire. As shown in the following picture, you simply make a small peninsula on the left and right side. This way the mowing robot can only drive through the passage when it is driving straight towards it. The solution does not work in 100% of cases, but in 99.9% of cases.
A Passage Circuit Prevents Getting Lost in Passages
If option A does not work and your robotic mower still gets lost in the passage, you can install a so-called passage circuit. This is not offered by the normal robotic mower manufacturers. However, there are many third party suppliers who offer such a passage circuit.
With a passage circuit, an additional loop is placed around the passage, which is connected to the main boundary wire by means of branch terminals. At one end, where the passage cable meets the boundary wire, there is a switch box with which the mowing robot can communicate by means of a Bluetooth module.
When the passage control is activated, the mowing robot cannot drive through the passage. If the Automower approaches the passage in search mode, it signals the switch box that it now wants to drive through the passage, which causes the switch box to interrupt the passage loop to allow the mowing robot to pass through.
Once the Automower has made it through the passage, the loop is reactivated and the mower can no longer enter the passage and get lost in the mowing mode.
Note: As the Bluetooth module is not from Husqvarna itself, and it can only be installed by tampering with the Automower, which will render the warranty of the robotic mower void.
How many areas can the Automower mow? The number of separated areas that can be mowed by connecting passages with an Automower depends on the number of remote starting points that can be set. These vary from model to model. Sometimes 3 or 5 remote starting points can be set. The maximum area output of the Automower is also a limiting factor.
Does the automatic passage recognition have to be activated? The automatic passage recognition is constantly active from the moment the mower leaves the factory. It cannot be deactivated via the menu either.
Automower® Spares and Accessories
Installation kits that include loop wire, pegs, couplers and connectors. There are 3 different size kits to suit different size areas and complexities.
- SMALL. Suitable for open lawn areas of max 800 m² or complex lawn areas of max 400 m²
- MEDIUM. Suitable for open lawn areas of max 2000 m² or complex lawn areas of max 1000 m²
- LARGE. Suitable for open lawn areas of max 5000 m² or complex lawn areas of max 2500 m²
CONNECTOR PROTECTION BOX
A small sealed box for cable connectors, to protect them against moisture during off season.
MAINTENANCE CLEANING KIT
Including specific slim brushes with sharp scrapers to get in tight areas, a screwdriver to exchange blades, abrasive pad to clean the contactors on the mower and charging station and a plastic care spray.
How to install a boundary wire free Husqvarna Automower®
AUTOMOWER® CONNECT MODULE
The Automower® connect module allows you to control and configure your mower. With the module installed, you can download the app to your Android or iPhone and use it to communicate directly with your mower. Equipped as standard on Husqvarna Automower® X-Line and 500 Series.
REPLACEABLE TOP COVERS
Make your mower unique and personal by changing its colour. Available in white, orange and grey on selected models.
Pond HousePamphillions FarmDebdenSaffron WaldenEssexCB11 3JT
Why spend weekends pushing a loud gas mower and breathing exhaust fumes? Let one of these autonomous electric mowers do the work cleanly and quietly.
By Mark Wolfe | Updated Jul 18, 2023 10:43 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila
Improvements in rechargeable battery tech and intelligent software have dramatically changed the way we live. Smart televisions and lighting systems improve our sensory environment, while other automated home devices like vacuum cleaners, thermostats, and refrigerators minimize many more mundane tasks. Similarly, robotic lawn mowers can now keep the grass at just the right height, eliminating a time-consuming weekend chore.
These devices may even cost less to own and operate than gasoline-powered mowers while making very little noise and producing no exhaust emissions. They maintain up to an acre or more on most types of terrain, and they work automatically so folks with lawns have more time to relax and enjoy their green space.
No doubt, all of this sounds great—but how well do these robots actually perform? To find out, we put some popular models through their paces on real-life lawns. Read on to learn about the criteria we used to select these mowers, and then check out our product reviews to find out how each one did on our test turf. Anyone in the market for a new mower might just discover that a robot model can be a Smart, time-saving investment. R2-D2 would surely approve!
- BEST OVERALL:Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:Gardena 15001-20 Sileno City Automatic Robotic Mower
- UPGRADE PICK:Husqvarna Automower 415X Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR STEEP HILLS:Redback MowRo 9.5-Inch Robot Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR LARGE LAWNS:Husqvarna Automower 115H Robotic Lawn Mower
- BEST FOR SMALL LAWNS:Gardena 15202-41 Sileno Minimo Robotic Mowe
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best Robotic Lawn Mowers
All of the robotic lawn mowers we tested use 14-gauge low-voltage wire to establish the barrier. We assembled two barriers around two 1,200-square-foot patches of lawn—one with Bermuda grass and a steep slope and one mostly flat area with centipede grass. Each test area included two large open spaces connected by a narrow bottleneck corridor, and all the mowers were tested on both test areas.
We established a daily mowing schedule for 7 days in each location. We observed the ease of programming and communication with the mower as well as its actual performance. Criteria to be included in this guide were as follows:
- Consistently reliable mowing on schedule and returning to the base station after initial setup and first-day adjustments
- Consistently navigating the narrow corridor to mow both large areas
- Avoiding random obstacles intentionally left within the boundaries
- Returning to the base station in the event of rain or sprinklers
- Avoiding excessively steep slopes without becoming stuck
- Complete coverage of the test area—no noticeable missed spots for the entire test week
Our Top Picks
We measured the following robotic lawn mowers against our shopping considerations (detailed below) and put each one to work for a 7-day home trial. Find out why we recommend them among the best robot lawn mowers available.
Worx Landroid M 20V Robotic Lawn Mower
The popular Worx Landroid robotic mower lineup includes models S, M, and L for yards up to 0.125 acre, 0.25 acre, and 0.5 acre, respectively. While they offer many similarities, we found that the Worx Landroid M offers the best combination of capability and affordability. It is powered by a 20-volt 4-amp-hour lithium-ion battery for 2 hours of runtime per 90-minute charge. It can mow on a 20-degree slope thanks to a pair of high-efficiency brushless wheel motors that provide extra traction. The Landroid’s 8-inch self-leveling mowing disc cuts closer to the edges of the yard than many competitors. The blade height manually adjusts from 1.5 to 3.5 inches.
Landroid connects to a home Wi-Fi network via Bluetooth and automatically keeps its own software up to date. You can easily set or adjust the custom mowing schedule or monitor the mower on the go via the Landroid mobile app. An integrated rain sensor stops the mower from cutting if rain starts and sends it back to its charging station.
The Landroid M performed at or near the top in most of our testing rubric categories. Assembly and programming were easy, mowing was reliable with excellent coverage, communication through the mobile app was intuitive, and runtime was superior—all for a very competitive price. Runtime was especially impressive: We clocked it at 2 hours 35 minutes, the longest of all the mowers we tested.
Unfortunately, we subtracted points for poor docking ability. Landroid was the only mower we tested with recharging contacts located on the side of the machine rather than the front or back. To recharge, it must be perfectly positioned in relation to two flexible contact points as it passes over the base station; otherwise, it continues tracking along the perimeter wire without stopping. After resetting the base station three times and ensuring it was absolutely level in all directions with a long, straight approach, we finally achieved satisfactory results.
Aside from that issue, the Landroid provides outstanding overall functionality for the price. Available upgrades include the ACS module that prevents collisions, Find My Landroid GPS cellular module, Radio Link module to extend Wi-Fi connectivity for improved artificial intelligence, an Off Limits module for wire-free no-mow zones within the main mowing area, and the Landroid Garage.
- Coverage area: 0.25 acre (10,890 square feet)
- Mowing height range: 1.5 to 3.5 inches
- Slope rating: 20 degrees
- Includes everything you need to get started and clear step-by-step instructions for easy installation
- User-friendly mobile app makes it simple to control the mower and check status remotely
- 2 hours of runtime per charge means more mowing and less time spent charging
- Competitive price point for a highly capable robotic lawn mower
- Base station must be installed perfectly or the mower may not align properly for charging
- Some desirable features are not included with the base kit
Get the Worx robot lawn mower at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
Gardena 15001-20 Sileno City Automatic Robotic Mower
Anyone shopping for an affordable and uncomplicated robotic lawn mower for a small yard would do well to consider the Gardena Sileno City. It navigates slopes up to 25 percent and corridors as narrow as 24 inches wide. Plus, it works rain or shine, day or night.
Available with either a 2,700-square-foot or 5,400-square-foot maximum mowing capacity, the Sileno City is a great option for most urban landscapes. It requires a flat, level area for the charging station and a nearby power source. A low-voltage perimeter wire keeps the mower inbounds and may be configured to mow a secondary area that is isolated from the primary lawn.
You can customize the mowing height between 0.8 inch and 2 inches high by means of a manual adjustment knob. The Gardena Bluetooth app makes it easy to operate the mower or customize the schedule and other settings from any mobile device, or use the onboard control panel to make adjustments.
It took about 1.5 hours to set up the Gardena Sileno City in our testing area. The kit included everything needed to get started, along with clear instructions. We plugged in the base station and allowed the mower to charge while we installed the perimeter wire and guide wire. The guide wire is an extra wire that bisects the lawn from the base station to the most distant portion of the perimeter wire. All Gardena (and parent company Husqvarna) robot mowers use it to navigate more efficiently.
After installation, we followed the instructions to calibrate the system and program the schedule. Starting with a pre-mowed lawn, we adjusted the mower height to mow 1.5 inches high, and the yard looked great throughout the test period.
One feature that shoppers should be aware of is the maximum daily runtime of about 3.5 hours per day (for the 2,700-square-foot version that we tested). Don’t bother scheduling the mower to run more than 3.5 hours total per day since after reaching the time limit, the device will simply return home until the following day. Since we mowed no more than 2.5 hours per day, we didn’t have a problem.
Husqvarna AUTOMOWER Connect App | Funktionen, Wetter-Timer & Spiralschnitt | deutsch
- Coverage area: 2,700 square feet
- Mowing height range: 0.8 to 2.0 inches
- Slope rating: 14.04 degrees
- Value-priced yet feature-rich robotic mower ideal for smaller lawn areas
- Kit includes everything needed for installation and easy-to-follow instructions
- Reliably and quietly mows all kinds of grass, day or night, rain or shine
- Navigates slopes up to 25 percent and passages as narrow as 24 inches
- Preprogrammed with a daily runtime limit that stops the mower regardless of battery status
- Not Wi-Fi or GPS enabled
Get the Gardena 15001-20 robot lawn mower at Amazon or Gardena.
Husqvarna Automower 415X Robotic Lawn Mower
Here is a well-equipped mower for warm-season grasses up to 0.4 acre, especially lawns with challenging obstacles, narrow passages, and sloped terrain. With a mowing height range of 0.8 to 2 inches, the Husqvarna Automower 415X is designed for maintaining low-mow grasses like zoysia, Bermuda, and centipede. It is powered by an 18-volt 2-amp-hour lithium-ion battery that delivers a runtime of 50 minutes per charge and recharges in 60 minutes. This premium mower features a high-resolution onboard display, rugged poly front bumper, LED headlights, and coarse-tread wheels that easily handle slopes up to 40 percent.
The Automower 415X is loaded with communication and control features, beginning with cellular and Bluetooth connectivity. It is easily controlled via the Automower Connect mobile app and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home Smart devices. Husqvarna’s intelligent mapping technology uses GPS sensors to virtually map the lawn, enabling zone control with customized settings, and real-time tracking through the app. This high level of communication pairs nicely with precision control and automated features like electric height adjustment, automatic passage handling, remote location starting, spiral- and spot-cutting capabilities, wireless firmware updates, theft protection system with GPS tracking, and more.
The Automower 415X arrived for testing with everything we needed for a quick and easy DIY installation. The layout and setup were similar to the other models we tested but with the unique addition of a central guide wire running through the middle of the mowing area to assist with navigation back to the home base. Initial programming was fast and intuitive with the mower’s onboard controls. After downloading the app, we spent some time customizing mowing options, adding the targeted mowing height and spiral mowing options. Targeted mowing automatically lowered the cutting height each day until our preselected height was achieved. With spiral mowing engaged, the mower automatically detects extra-tall or dense growth and mows that isolated area in a spiral pattern. These two options were especially helpful in combination, as we needed to get our overgrown Bermuda grass under control.
Our testing lawn was an irregularly shaped area encompassing 1,200 square feet, with a tree isolated by the boundary wire near the middle and two larger lawn areas on either side. Part of the test area included a steep slope, close to 50 percent in one small area, and the 415X had no trouble. We noticed after the third or fourth mowing that the robot was making more efficient linear cuts and less frequently getting caught up in multipoint turns.
During the target-height adjustment period, the mower seemed to FOCUS more time on a section after it had been sufficiently cut, then running out of battery before fully cutting the other section. Once the target was achieved, however, daily mowing at 1.25 inches kept the grass looking great. Docking at the base station went perfectly every time. Easy setup, reliable operation, Smart tech, and a lower mowing height range make this a good choice for most small to midsize yards with warm-season lawn grass.
- Coverage area: 0.4 acre (17,424 square feet)
- Mowing height range: 0.8 to 2 inches
- Slope rating: 22 degrees
- Precision control features allow you to target portions of the lawn that require more attention
- GPS-assisted navigation allows the robot to mow challenging areas more efficiently
- Easily navigates obstructions like toys and lawn furniture as well as difficult terrain
- Cellular and Bluetooth connectivity make it easy to connect and control the mower remotely
- Premium price point for top-of-the-line robotic mowing technology
- Highly efficient mowing capability is offset by a somewhat limited runtime per charge
Get the Husqvarna Automower 415X robot lawn mower at Amazon or Lowe’s.