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Will Autonomous Lawnmowers Take Over the Market?
Over 20% of Americans with a yard hired someone else to mow their lawn. Some choose to do this because they do not have the time to do so themselves, while others simply despise the act of lawn mowing. No matter the reason, this data reflects a significant market opportunity for entrepreneurs, if they were to produce a better, cheaper, and more convenient way for homeowners to avoid being “that neighbor” with a mangy, untamed lawn. And fortunately for those of us who are not avid lawncare enthusiasts, entrepreneurs have delivered on this opportunity.
Let’s talk pros and cons of AI-powered autonomous mowers to make an informed decision about the technology’s potential.
The price of the average autonomous lawnmower has eclipsed that of riding mowers, with some models being even cheaper than high-end push powers. The average lawn mowing service performed by a landscaping company costs $175/acre and the average American yard size is about a quarter of an acre. So, assuming an industry-norm $1,750 robotic mower and a quarter acre yard with the mean pricing of $43.75 per lawn mowing ($175/acre divided by 4), the autonomous mower becomes a cheaper option in the long-term as long as it can remain functional for 40 uses (uses being defined as one time when you would have to mow your lawn using a traditional lawnmower). And the number of uses required to reach this tipping point goes down with every increase in yard size (only 10 uses for a 1-acre yard). Better yet, most robotic mowers are electric, reducing the cost and inconvenience of buying gasoline to fuel one’s lawnmower. This also makes autonomous lawnmowers both quiet and environmentally friendly.
Most autonomous lawnmowers charge automatically - meaning that all you have to do is plug the base charger into an outlet in a location accessible to the robot and it will charge itself automatically when it becomes low on battery.
The safety of autonomous mower use is ensured through advanced AI capabilities and sensors that virtually all autonomous mowers are equipped with. The combination of these features ensures that children, pets, and wildlife are not inadvertently harmed by the mower. These same features also prevent mowers from colliding with obstacles that could damage them, thus extending the product’s lifespan. Lastly, most autonomous mowers immediately turn off when lifted off of the ground.
Robotic mowers take a random route, ensuring that the lawn is trimmed evenly rather than having the clear patterns that typical lawnmowers create.
Robotic mowers are also compact, allowing for easy storage and transportation between locations - a luxury understated by those who have never had to stuff a push-mower into the back of their SUV.
Autonomous lawnmowers typically remain functional for several years, making the upfront costs pay off in the long-term.
Lastly, perhaps the best reason to use an autonomous mower is because it saves hundreds of hours of time when compared to mowing a lawn with a riding or push lawnmower.
The primary disadvantage to autonomous lawnmowers is that they do require a significant upfront cost. A quick Google search yields new autonomous mowers on sale for prices ranging from $900 to upwards of $4,500. Autonomous mowers are also significantly slower at mowing lawns than traditional lawnmowers. It may take up to a week to bring an embarrassingly unkempt lawn to a reasonable height, but after this point, the mower will maintain the lawn’s desired height on a continual basis. Autonomous mowers also have short battery lives, meaning that they must recharge themselves frequently. Autonomous mowers are also significantly harder to repair if they do get damaged, as few technicians are familiar with the technology and thus it can usually only be repaired through the manufacturer. Lastly, an autonomous mower cannot provide the same attention to detail as a landscaper, particularly with respect to areas that are inaccessible to the mower or maintenance that one’s landscaper may do concurrently with lawnmowing.
After significant analysis of the benefits that autonomous lawnmowers provide, it is fair to say that they have high disruptive potential. While the initial development of this technology has been driven by startups, big lawnmower brands like Husqvarna, Toro, and John Deere are also producing their own lines of autonomous lawnmowers. But is this technology actually catching on?
The global lawnmowers market size was estimated at $28.5 billion in 2019, with an expected CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 5.6% between 2020 and 2027. In comparison, the robotic lawnmower market size is a smaller $1.3 billion as of 2020, but with a CAGR of 33% between 2020 and 2023. As consumers trust the technology more over the years (particularly with respect to safety and effectiveness), AI-powered autonomous lawnmowers are poised to take a significant portion of the lawnmower market.