The Best Robot Lawn Mowers for 2023
A robot lawn mower frees you from pushing a noisy, gas-powered mower around your yard every weekend. Here are the best models we’ve tested.
I’ve been working with computers for ages, starting with a multi-year stint in purchasing for a major IBM reseller in New York City before eventually landing at PCMag (back when it was still in print as PC Magazine). I spent more than 14 years on staff, most recently as the director of operations for PC Labs, before hitting the freelance circuit as a contributing editor.
Gardena Robotic Mower Sileno City
There’s nothing like the look and smell of freshly cut grass. But unless you’re paying for a professional landscaping service, you have to put in a lot of time to keep your lawn in tip-top shape. You can spend hours every week doing the work yourself the old-fashioned way or you can invest in a robot lawn mower.
Available for lawns of all shapes and sizes, robot lawn mowers are relatively easy to set up and program. And because they rely on rechargeable battery packs for power, they’re super quiet. That means you can run them at any hour of the day without bothering the neighbors. They aren’t cheap, however, and you pay more for features like rain and anti-theft sensors; Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity; a mobile companion app; and flexible scheduling capabilities. The same goes for models that can handle larger lawns with steep grades and obstructions such as flower beds, trees, and ornamental decorations.
Read on to see our top picks and find out which robotic lawn mower is best for you based on your lawn size and budget.
Husqvarna Automower 315X
The Husqvarna Automower 315X is a state-of-the-art robot lawn mower that is packed with features, including GPS, Bluetooth, and cellular technology.
The Greenworks Pro Optimow 50H is a moderately priced robotic lawn mower that offers cellular connectivity, GPS tracking, and a user-friendly mobile app.
Designed for rough terrain and steep hills, the Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD is loaded with features including all-wheel drive, Bluetooth, cellular, and GPS technologies, a pivoting rear end, and an ultra-quiet battery-powered motor.
Gardena Robotic Mower Sileno City
It’s not loaded with features, but the Gardena Sileno City robotic lawn mower provides good cutting performance and Bluetooth connectivity at a relatively affordable price.
Robot lawn mowers look similar to robot vacuums. In action, it’s almost like watching a Roomba darting around your lawn, tidying things up. When it comes to what’s inside, however, things couldn’t be more different.
All mowers use a battery-operated motor with cutting blades, an AC-powered base station, perimeter wire, and sensors that prevent them from wandering off your property or into the street. With one end of the perimeter wire connected to a terminal on the base station, you lay the wire along the border of your lawn and hold it in place with stakes. Then, you connect the wire to the second terminal on the base station. The base not only charges the mower but provides the wire with an electrical charge. Sensors on the mower use the charged wire to guide it along the boundaries and to return to the base when the lawn is cut or when the battery needs to recharge.
Speaking of the battery, robotic mowers use a rechargeable battery pack (usually lithium-ion) that can last anywhere from 30 minutes for an entry-level model up to four-plus hours for a high-end mower. Depending on the size of the mower and the battery capacity, expect charging times of anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours or more.
You typically handle programming via an onboard control panel with a power button and menus for setting seasonal timers, scheduling cutting times, creating zones, configuring edge-cutting settings, running diagnostics, and viewing the cutting history. Nearly all robotic mowers are very quiet and operate within the 55dB to 60dB range, but a few models put out up to 75dB of sound. Gas-powered mowers typically run between 85dB and 95dB. You can run the quieter mowers at night (some even have headlights), but you should probably run the louder models only in the daytime.
23 HP Kohler Command Pro CH680 engine Carbureted engine Entry level Model T commercial mower Comfort Seat with optional armrestsNon-collection version availableDecks:
26.5 HP Kohler Command Pro ECH749 EFI engineSuperior fuel efficiency Simple, reliable operation Comfort Seat with optional armrestsNon-collection version availableDecks:
With multiple engine choices catering to specific commercial needs—and compatibility with virtually every Walker deck and add-on, the Model T provides unmatched versatility and year-round value. The Model T is equipped with a large, 10 bushel (12.4 cu. ft.) GHS grass catcher that allows extended mowing time between dumping. Like every Walker, the Model T features dual, independent hydrostatic transmissions, precision steering levers, and a separate Forward Speed Control providing precise, constant forward motion.
No other mower steers like a Walker, providing agile, zero-turn mowing with fingertip control and efficiency—all with the signature clean, manicured cut of the Walker Mower. For operators wanting a single machine that will handle the toughest property maintenance challenges, the Model T is the solution.
This build is a custom remote control lawn mower. Our yard is 0.44 acres which means a riding mower is a bit overkill but a push mower takes alot of time. I thought a remote controlled mower would fit right in. The plan began to take shape when I found a Ryobi 40 Volt push mower at Dirt Cheap for 60. Then my brother found a zero-turn riding mower that was junked. With those two pieces in place I had all of the necessary parts to begin cobbling.
This image shows the mower in its current state. It is functional but there are improvements I want to make.
This image shows the drive motors and control system.
- 40 Volt Ryobi mower
- Frame from a zero turn mower. This included the front caster wheels and the rear tires.
- 24 Volt motors from a Jazz mobility scooter. I purchased them from ebay.
- 2x 12 Volt sealed lead acid batteries from batterysharks.net
- Sabretooth 2×32 motor controller from Dimension Engineering
- Flysky FS-i6x remote control. This is typically used for RC planes.
The frame is from a zero-turn mower that went underwater in a flood. My brother took it out of the trash and used it for parts. I planned to make the RC Mower with a type of zero-turn action so I needed the front wheels to be casters. The two bars that extended back from the front wheel assembly made a good frame for mounting the Ryobi push mower.
This is the frame attached to a prototype housing for the rear wheels. The frame consists of the front wheel assembly and two pieces of metal tubing that extend to the back.
The motors are from a Pride Jazzy Elite Power Wheelchair. I bought the pair on ebay for 100. The part number is DRVMOTR1428 / 1429. I was able to find these motors for sale in a few places on the internet but I could not find a datasheet or CAD files.
The motor has a manual brake. I have already removed the brake handle in this image. There is also an electronic brake.
This is the wiring harness for the motor. These are temporary connections for testing. The red and blue are motor power. The smaller wires on the left are for the electronic brake. The brake is engaged by default. It is released by applying 24 Volts.
This is a control unit that I bought separately on ebay. I think it is compatible with the motors but I did not have the right joystick to test it. I ended up using only the mating connector for the motor harness. I was not able to find any information on the control signals that this unit required.
This is the mounting area of the motors. The mounting holes are designed for a specific fit in the mobility scooter. They are not designed for universal use. The shaft is a 5/8″ diameter with a key. The shaft size and the key dimensions did not match with any standard wheel hub that I could find.
I ordered some wheels that were compatible with the mobility scooter. They were about 13″ diameter which is larger than the standard wheel. However, they did not provide enough ground clearance. I had the wheels from the zero-turn mower but I needed to find a way to mate them with the motor shaft. The video below shows the solution I found.
The brain of the RC mower is a Sabretooth 2×32 motor driver from Dimension Engineering. It is a versatile device that I recommend for any project like this one. Some of the most useful features of the Sabretooth were:
- Settings can be set easily through a USB cable and free software from Dimension Engineering.
- Multiple control signal sources. I used a joystick initially for testing. In the end I used the servo pulse mode which worked perfectly with my RC receiver.
- Throttle mapping. allows you to define an exponential or linear mapping of the input signal. For example you can reduce the sensitivity around the center joystick position for more control at lower speeds.
- Electric brake release. a 24Volt output that can be set to automatically release and engage a brake.
- Battery protection. cuts off if battery voltage is out of range
- Deadband. controls the delay between switching from forward to reverse direction or vice versa. This was crucial when I was using a joystick. This fixed a problem of the motor jerking violently when releasing the joystick to the center position.
An example screen from the DEScribe software. This screen shows the battery protection settings and the throttle mapping. There is a plethra of settings. I encourage you to read through the user manual. If there is a customization you want to make, there is probably a setting for it in this software.
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Remote control zero turn mower
I’ve really got more projects going than I’ll ever complete but I was thinking of add one more to the list. Maybe at the top.
I hate mowing the grass. I recently bought a new 60 inch zero turn mower and that has made it a little better, but I still hate it. Anyway, I got to thinking. To make this thing go and mow you just pull or push two levers. Not a lot going on here. I would think it wouldn’t be too hard to hook up some servos to these levers and remote enable this thing. I could manually start it, turn on the blades and set the throttle. Then use a model airplane type remote setup to control it’s movement. For safety I could hook a remote kill switch to the seat sensor that I could use to kill it if it became self-aware.
I live in the country so the chances of running over a neighbor is pretty low.
I think I could rig the servo arms so they could be disconnected easily so I could manually trim around trees and the like.
Any opinion on effort, money involved, etc?
Looks like I could even get parts used on a commercial version.
That’s only an intermediate step towards the logical conclusion. And the conclusion has already been done:
Oh yea, those are pretty cool. But seeing I have about 6 acres to mow that won’t quite do the job. Maybe by the time I need a new mower they will have one monster sized.
I’m hoping I can just “Fun up” the one I have.
Have you ever watched Mythbusters? They are commonly tasked with rigging up a car or truck with model-airplane-style remote controls. Whenever they do it, it looks like they need to do it in a very heavy-duty fashion to make it work reliably. For example, the actuators look like they have to use either hydraulics or linear drives, and they’ve always got the top-of-the-line high-power radio controllers. Make sure that whatever you use is up to the task and isn’t too weak to get the job done.
Good point. This is a 700 lb mower and not a 2 lb RC airplane. The linear actuators they use on Mythbusters look very expensive. I looked on ebay and found a few 12v actuators for around 100. I’m not sure if those will work I’ll need to do some more research. I have several controllers that I might be able to use laying around and even an older receiver.
If I can keep this under 500 I might try to give it s go. I’m not sure is 500 would cover it all.
You only need the heavy duty actuators iff you need a lot of force to drive the unit. For instance the brake pedal of a car still needs a reasonable amount of pressure (even with power brakes) to adequately stop. Similarly steering can require a bit of effort too.
If the controls are light to use then the servos/actuators can be accordingly lower duty. You won’t be used model plane servos of course though.
How are you going to manage the navigation of the rigged mower?
Observing and remote controlling from any distance it might be difficult to drive in straight rows and follow a parallel pattern.
I’m sure it would be hilariously fun learning how.
If someone can remotely control this from a distance, a pokey little lawn mower should be quite easy by comparison.
I am so not a lawn guy. I don’t care if I have a “grid pattern” on my lawn. So if I zig back and forth a few times at least I’m having fun. This guy seems to be having fun while mowing about everything twice.
If will definitely take a learning curve. hopefully I will not mow down the house.
I think what I’ll need is probably a combination of speed and force. I’m thinking 35 lb’s max with a 10″ stroke as fast as ~75 a piece will buy.