Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"The Robots Are Coming (To Mow Your Lawn)"

I understand that domestic employment for positions ranging from butler to valet to cook to gardener is booming but some people aren't able to afford servants.
For them there are robots.*

From Popular Mechanics:
Unwilling to waste one more sunny Saturday mowing, PopMech Senior Tech Editor Glenn Derene tests the new breed of grass-cutting robots.
For some people, mowing the lawn is a meditative experience—a chance to tune out while getting a little exercise walking behind the lawnmower, inhaling the scent of freshly cut grass. It's good old-fashioned domestic man's work, like your father did before you, his father before him, and so on. Well, not me. I hate mowing the lawn. It's a numbingly repetitive, sweaty, noisy waste of time. My father hated it too. And I'm pretty sure his dad did before him.

Tell you what I do like, though: robots—love 'em! In fact, I would gleefully surrender every thankless bit of home landscaping to an automaton. So I decided to see if I could piece together a system wherein my lawn essentially would take care of itself. Yes, I could have hired a landscaping crew, but to me that was a dodge. I didn't want to pass off my dirty work to someone else. That's the beauty of robots—one day they may take over the world, but for now, they get the grunt work.
PM editor Glenn Derene with his son Owen and their
 lawnmowing robot.

And, it's worth mentioning, I wanted a beautiful lawn—green, lush, carpetlike—something my family and I could really roll around on during a midsummer day. I just didn't want to sweat for it. The good news is that, for mowing, there's already a robot solution—a couple of them, in fact. Honda sells the Miimo; a company called LawnBott offers a variety of, well, lawn bots; and Friendly Robotics has a bunch of really friendly looking mowing robots. All of these systems seem pretty similar and promise essentially the same thing: to tame your turf with a minimum of human oversight.

I called up Husqvarna, a company with a long history in the grasscutting biz. Husqvarna also has deep experience with robotic lawnmowers; it introduced the first consumer model in 1995. Now it sells two: the Automower 230 ACX ($2700) and the Automower 265 ACX ($3700). A few weeks after my call, I got a big box with a 265 ACX and an appointment with company representatives Quinn Derby and Gent Simmons. They arrived a few days later, surveyed my postage-stamp-size lawn, looked at the box from their company, and concluded that the 265 was complete overkill. But the machine was there, so they decided to install it anyway....MORE
* I couldn't resist the supercilious tone. Sorry.
Here's The Guardian:
Who wants to serve a billionaire?
The rich are getting richer – and that means jobs on superyachts for those who can meet their employer's every whim. But first trainees must learn how to fold a towel ...

"...At the more arcane end of the spectrum are the people who staff superyachts, who need to be equipped with discretion, servility and good ironing skills..."