Husqvarna Automower 435X AWD Robotic Lawn Mower Review



I’ve owned the Automower 315 for one mowing season now, and been mostly happy with it. It ping-pongs around your yard like a Roomba, except constrained by an invisible-fence boundary wire instead of your living-room walls. It can follow a separate guide wire to reach different parts of your yard, and you can tell it what percentage of its time to spend mowing each part. It reliably and evenly cuts my whole lawn, and I haven’t had to do any mowing myself apart from trimming the stuff directly abutting my fence and house.

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So, the basics are down! It works reliably and saves me from mowing, which is probably exactly what you’d hope and expect, right?

My biggest complaints are its lack of smarts–the thing has no idea if it’s actually moving or not, and, if it gets stuck, it’ll persist in fruitlessly spinning its wheels until the battery dies or the motors overload and shut down. One time it got hung up on a small ball that rolled into my yard (motor overload); another time it got one wheel stuck in a rut that appeared after a big rain storm (that immobilized the mower, but it cluelessly kept spinning those wheels until the free wheel dug a matching, parallel rut three inches into my lawn and the battery died).

Roombas are just as blind, but have an un-driven front sensor wheel they can use to tell if they’re stuck. (If the drive wheels are spinning, but the front wheel indicates no motion, it can intuit that it’s stuck and call for help!) The lack of something that simple (a cheap-o photodiode to measure the rotation of the wheel it already has!) in something this expensive is pretty obnoxious.

The maximum cutting height is pretty short, too — I prefer my grass to be at least an inch taller than what the Automower can manage, especially in the heat of summer. The shorter grass left me with a much browner lawn than I’m used to.
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