IFA 2013: Robomow 2014 lineup

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Friendly Robotics Robomow booth at IFA 2013

Friendly Robotics, the maker of the well known Robomow lawn mower robots had a surprisingly large booth at IFA this year (right next to the iRobot booth). To avoid confusion and make matters easier the company has ditched the Friendly Robotics name and only used the Robomow brand name. Their exhibition area was simple and confusing at the same time.

The big news at Robomow was that the company will renew its entire model line in 2014, keeping only the brand new, top of the line RS630 model. The new lineup and the booth was simple and straight forward because all 16 robots of the company are built on only two base models. Of course this is nothing new in the world of robotic lawn mowers, but most often it is hard to find any system in the confusing lineup.

The two base models differ in shape and size. The smaller, narrower version uses a single blade (with three arms) to cut the grass, while the larger and wider robot used two of these rotating blades. This simple fact sets the two robots apart: the smaller one is designed to work in smaller, the larger one to handle larger areas. Both models come in three different versions, so the one blade model can handle 200 (RC302), 400 (RC304) and 600 (RC306) square meters, while the two blade models are designed to mow 1200 (RS612), 2200 (RS622) and 3000 (RS630) square meters. So the smaller models carry the RC, the larger models the RS prefix, while the last two numbers indicate the area they can safely handle.

But no matter how hard we count, this only gives us six models. The trick is that the robots will be available in red and black besides the original green, and they all have different model numbers. The green robots will be sold and installed by specialist, the black will be on sale in consumer electronics chains, while the red version is the DIY lineup sold only in hardware stores.

Naturally the green version will be the most expensive one because the buyer is also paying for the expertise of the specialist. The difference is not huge, only 50 euro at the base model and not more than 200 euro at the more expensive models. In return the green models are able to cut 20-25% larger areas than the similar members of other two model lines. Since the specifications of the different color models are the same, the difference must be a result of some software limitations in the red and black models.

This would give 18 versions all together, but the largest model, the RS630 has no red and black siblings, so the entire lineup will consist of 16 models from 2014.

None of the three entry level (cheapest) models come with a docking station, therefore those robots will not be able to provide a scheduled service. I suppose the smaller capacity (smaller areas that they can mow) comes from the lack of automatic charging, but docking station will be available as an optional extra. The red DIY model also lacks the remote control feature that is available for the other two colors through a smart phone app.

Here is the list of the different models and the distinguishing features:

version color model price (€) area (m2) dock remote control GSM
1 green Robomow RC302 899 200 not avail. included optional
black Robomow TC150 849 150 not avail. included optional
red Robomow MC150 849 150 not avail. not free not avail.
2 green Robomow RC304 1099 400 included included optional
black Robomow TC300 1049 300 included included optional
red Robomow MC300 1049 300 included not free not avail.
3 green Robomow RC306 1299 600 included included optional
black Robomow TC500 1199 500 included included optional
red Robomow MC500 1149 500 included not free not avail.
4 green Robomow RS612 1799 1200 included included optional
black Robomow TS1000 1649 1000 included included optional
red Robomow MS1000 1599 1000 included not free not avail.
5 green Robomow RS622 2099 2200 included included optional
black Robomow TS1800 1949 1800 included included optional
red Robomow MS1800 1899 1800 included not free not avail.
6 green Robomow RS630 2699 3000 included included optional
black -
red -

The cutting height on the smaller models (having the letter C in their model name) can be adjusted between 15 and 60 mm (0.6 and 2.4 in) with the knob on the botttom of the robot. The larger models (letter S in the model name) have a much more convenient height adjustment system that finally provides a user friendly feedback system. The adjusting knob is under the cover on the top of the robot and it is placed next to the scale that shows the set height in mm (from 20 to 80 mm / from 0.8 to 3.2 in).

The cutting blades are completely new as well. While previous generation models had blades with 2 arms, the new blades come with three sharp arms. According to the marketing manager of the company the blades still mulch the cut pieces so the robot can safely handle even taller grass as well. Mulching means that the pieces that are cut will be shredded to small pieces before they fall to the ground. This prevents longer grass pieces to pile up and the small grass pieces can better fertilize the lawn than longer cuts.

For geeks like me it's a huge improvement that all models will sport a built in Bluetooth adapter what provides connection with a smart phone equipped with the free Robomow app. (The app was demonstrated with an iPad Mini, but it is not yet clear whether the app will be available for Android and Windows phone as well). The app can manually control the green and black models, but it only provides diagnostic and automatic features on the red models. The robots can be started, stopped and sent back to the docking station with the app, and it is also possible to cancel the next scheduled mowing with a touch on the mobile device. Naturally this works only if we are within Bluetooth range (what is usually a few meters) with the robot. The green and black models can also be extended with a GSM module, but the exact features and price of this module is not yet known.

The Robomow RS630 is already available on most markets, but the rest of the new lineup will only arrive in 2014.

Robomow TC series robot
Robomow TC series robot in action
Double blade system of TS / RS / MS series robots
New blade shape
Cutting height adjustment of TS / RS / MS series robots
Cutting height scale of TS / RS / MS series robots
Rain sensor of TS / RS / MS series robots
Control panel of TS / RS / MS series robots
Remote control app
Remote control app
Robomow TC series robot in action
Docking station of TC / RC /MC series robots
Cutting blade of TC / RC /MC series robots
Height adjustment knob of TC / RC /MC series robots
Front wheel of TC / RC /MC series robots
Rear wheel of TC / RC /MC series robots

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