Electric lawn mowers are great. Quieter, more powerful, no toxic fumes or gasoline, and far less maintenance than a gas mower. However, there’s another way to level up your electric lawn mower game and that’s with the latest onslaught of robotic mowers hitting the market. Autonomous mowers that use proximity sensors, computer vision, and accurate to the centimeter global positioning systems are everywhere now. Last year I beta tested a model that’s out on the market now, and this year I bought myself a second one for comparison … and because I have a tech addiction problem … I even have a third, but it’s technically not a mower in its current configuration. It’s a yard robot with a snow blower attachment that I’m looking forward to testing out next winter. When I said that these things were everywhere now …. maybe I just meant at my house. But seriously, how well do they work and are they worth it?

Cars have had autonomous driver assist features for years now. Add to that autonomous robot vacuums that are kind of ubiquitous at this point (I’m sure many of you have one … my 80 year old parents even have one). Well, this tech is also starting to take on our yards, which is why I wanted to cover this topic. I’m all for sustainable technology, so going electric with our yard equipment is pretty straightforward. Electric also has huge advantages over gas-powered equipment, which I’ve detailed in the past when I’ve reviewed electric lawn mowers and snow blowers.

Why an Autonomous Mower?

What I have here are the Segway Navimow H1500-VF and the Mammotion Luba 2 AWD 3000H. As I already mentioned, I didn’t pay for the Navimow because I was a beta tester last year, but I did buy the Luba 2. In either case, my opinions are my own and neither company has anything to do with this video.

I’m assuming the appeal of a robot mower should be obvious: you don’t have to spend time mowing your lawn. For those of you that like mowing your lawn … godspeed. The problem with previous generations of robot lawn mowers was that they required a perimeter wire. You were supposed to tack down or bury a wire around the edge of your lawn, which would define the boundaries of the area to mow. Installing the wire is time consuming and can easily be broken by a wayward garden tool or outdoor cat.

These new models can use a combination of proximity sensors, computer vision, and RTK global positioning systems for hyper accurate location tracking. It’s the RTK system that’s the game changer. The way it works is that you set up a base station somewhere in your yard, which can receive the GPS signals. The robot mower also has a built-in GPS antenna, which means it’s using two locations as reference points in order to narrow down the precise location to within a centimeter to two.

As for the computer vision systems, it’s not unlike what you’d find on a modern car like a Tesla, Rivian, or Ford. The mower uses machine learning to recognize objects, like people, pets, trees, bushes, etc. in order to either stop for safety or navigate around the object. There’s additional safety features like proximity sensors and pressure sensitive bumpers, so the mower knows if it’s bumped into an object, if there’s something close by, or if someone has touched the mower and is trying to lift it. In that case the mower quickly shuts off the blades to avoid any injury. These mowers are extremely safe from my experience.

Setup Experience

Speaking of the experience … how’s the setup?

While you don’t have to bury a wire around your yard, which is a huge boon, there’s still some setup work here.. This is something that I see get glossed over a lot in robot mower reviews. It can be tricky to find the ideal location for the base station’s RTK antenna and the mower’s charging station. This is true of both the Navimow and Luba 2. The antennas and charging station need power, as well as an unobstructed view of the sky. Depending on where your outside outlets are located, and what your house and surrounding situation looks like (lots of trees?), this can be a big challenge.

For the Navimow, you only need one power plug to power both the mower’s charging station and the RTK antenna. The reason? The RTK antenna is connected by a long extension wire to the charging station. While it’s nice that you only need one outlet, the issue is that you may have to string the wire to the antenna across your lawn to get a clear signal somewhere. That means stretching a wire right along the path the mower might need to mow. Just like the previous generation of robot mowers with a perimeter wire, this could easily get cut or damaged. Or in my case last year when I was a beta tester, chewed threw by a hungry chipmunk.

Thankfully, in my case I have an outlet located in a great location, which makes it easy to keep the wires off the lawn and in relative safety. These mowers all come with some kind of pole you can use and stab into the ground to secure it. For my Navimow I was able to attach the antenna to a mount on the side of my house. That’s ideally what you’d want to do. It keeps it out of the way, clear line of sight to the sky, and safe.

This is where the Luba 2 actually comes out slightly ahead.

The base station RTK antenna doesn’t need to connect directly to the mower’s charging station. Instead it communicates wirelessly using LoRa to the charging station, which is a form of long range wireless technology. That means it only needs its own power outlet to plug into. Mammotion is selling a solar panel accessory so you can place this thing anywhere in the yard without the need for an outlet. I ordered one to test out, but am still waiting for it. In my book this is the best type of setup because you can put the antenna on the complete opposite side of your house if you need to for a clear line of sight to the sky. That’s exactly what I did for my testing setup (I am planning on mounting it to the house, or the fence with the solar panel, in the near future though).

Once you have good locations figured out, you’ll need to run through the setup process using a mobile app. In the case of the Navimow, it detected the mower via bluetooth right away, then I followed the steps to get it onto WiFi, and also to activate a cellular connection. Cellular isn’t required for either of these mowers, but it does give some additional security in case someone steals the mower from your yard. You’ll be able to track down where it’s been taken to. Even if someone does make it away with your mower, they won’t be able to use it because it’s locked to your account.

The Luba 2 was a little trickier in my initial setup because you have to pair both the mower and the base station RTK antenna, which wasn’t exactly clear when I first started. The setup of the mower itself was virtually identical to the Navimow (bluetooth detection, connect WiFi, and then install your own cellular SIM card), but I kept hitting a roadblock trying to start mapping my yard due to a poor GPS location. That’s when I realized that I had to also pair and connect the RTK antenna to my WiFi. Once I did that everything was able to advance to the mapping your yard step.

Mapping for both is pretty straightforward, but also slightly embarrassing as you slowly walk your robot around the yard. It’s quite the show for the neighbors. Just a man taking his robot for a walk … nothing to see here. You drive the mower around the perimeter of each section of lawn you want it to mow. You’re supposed to keep it about 3-6 inches from the edge of the lawn or obstacles where it could get caught up on. The Navimow’s UI for this needs some work because it’s not really intuitive how to make corrections after the fact. The Luba 2 has a more intuitive UI for creating sections, pathways, and editing them after the fact. For instance, on the Luba 2 it was very easy to create a zone for the side yard, then the front yard, and then to create a pathway between the two across the driveway. On the Navimow I still get warning boxes that I haven’t selected an object to edit when trying to make a change. It’s really not clear when the map boundary you want to edit is selected or not, so I keep making the same mistake.


What about the features? I’m not going to go feature by feature, but here’s a quick high level comparison chart between the two units I have.

Segway Navimow HMammotion Luba 2
Robot Vision
Proximity Sensors
Multi-Zone Mapping/Editing
No-Go Zones
Rain Sensor
All Wheel Drive
Adjustable Mowing Height1.2 – 2.4 in (30-60mm)1-2.75 (20-75mm) or 

2.1-3.9 in (55-100mm)

Cutting Width8.3 in (210mm)15.7 in (400mm)
Mowing Size1500m23000m2
Running Time240 minutes180 minutes
Charging Time240 minutes150 minutes
Max Slope24°38°

As a former UX designer, I’m not big on the spec sheet checklist comparisons because they don’t tell the story of what it’s like to actually use the product. For instance, it looks damming that the Luba 2 has a shorter runtime compared to the Navimow, but the Luba 2 has AWD and can easily handle slopes and rougher terrain than the Navimow. From my experience with both of these units, the runtime isn’t a big deal at all considering you’ll most likely be running these when you’re asleep or doing something else. You won’t notice or really care. They’ll wander back to their dock to charge up and continue their jobs as needed.

Where the feature set differences do matter is around noise levels, mowing heights, and slopes. The Navimow is virtually silent when mowing, while the Luba 2 has a noticeable (but quiet) whirring sound as it makes its way around the yard. Both are quiet enough to run whenever you want without worrying about bothering your neighbors, but the Luba is slightly louder.

The Navimow at my old house got stuck easily in a few spots of the yard that had slopes slightly past what it could easily handle. My new yard doesn’t have as many steep slopes, so it’s handling it like a champ. However, it has still managed to get itself wedged against the rock beds along part of the house. Since it’s only RWD drive, it doesn’t have enough power and traction to get itself out of a jam like that. On the flip side, the AWD Luba 2 is a little powerhouse. It’s had zero issues navigating the same types of rock beds if it gets itself into a tricky situation.

For me, the mowing height is the biggest difference between these two. For a standard lawn you ideally want to cut the grass to a height between 2-3 inches (50-76mm) high.1 Granted, this is going to vary a lot by what your turf is made up of and what the water situation looks like. Taller grass will have a more established root system, which means less watering is needed. That’s my biggest problem with the Navimow. The highest it can go is 2.4 in (60mm). While good enough, I’d prefer to cut my lawn closer to the 3 inch mark (76mm). The Luba 2 is 1-2.75 inches (20-75mm) in the base version, but they also offer an H (for height) variant that goes up to nearly 4 inches (100mm). That’s the one I have.

User Experience

So what’s the user experience like actually living with these things? Well, in a word: awesome. I have a lawn that looks like a consistent height all the time. All I have to do every week or so is go out with a lawn trimmer and get the areas the robot mowers can’t get to. You’re talking about spending 15 minutes every week or two trimming the lawn versus a couple of hours every week.

Both mowers have a scheduling function where you can tailor not only the time it mows, but how it will mow the yard (ie. changing mowing height or direction, zones to mow, etc.). The Navimow has a bit of an edge on this feature though because it automatically alternates the mowing direction with each scheduled mow. For instance on day one it cuts diagonally to the right, and then on day two it cuts diagonally to the left. This helps to keep any ruts from forming and also ensures every blade gets cut over the course of a week. The Luba 2 doesn’t automatically change cutting directions, but you can program in specific cutting patterns for different tasks. While it’s not automatic, you can manually get to a somewhat similar place … but I really prefer the way Navimow handles this one.

Probably the coolest feature, and one I’m still trying to figure out an actual use for, is the FPV mode for the Luba 2. You can watch a first person perspective video feed from the mower as it mows your yard. It’s both insanely cool and yet a dubious feature. You feel a bit like Honey I Shrunk the Kids while watching the video feed.

Elephant in the Room

As Paul Hibbert would say, now we have to address the elephant in the room. If you’ve ever used a robot vacuum cleaner, you’ll know that these things are far from perfect. While they do remove the chore of mowing the vast majority of your lawn, they bring along some new, minor fiddliness. You may have to rescue it from time to time when it gets stuck (and it will get stuck). You’ll have to hose it down from time to time and change the blades. You’ll have to keep the sensors and cameras clean, so it can do its job effectively. But all of that isn’t the elephant in the room … it’s the cost. These things are expensive. The Segway Navimow H starts at $1,899 and goes up to $2,599 at the time of making this video. With the increase in price you get a mower that’s capable of handling a bigger yard. The Mammotion Luba 2 starts at $2,099 and goes all the way up to $4,099. Yeah … what’s your time worth? While that is crazy expensive this may make sense for someone that’s paying a lawn service to cut their lawn, or for someone that has a hectic schedule and doesn’t have time to mow the lawn themselves. Oh, in my case, you could hate mowing lawns with the fiery passion of 10 suns going supernova. If you don’t fall into one of those buckets, then you’d be better off getting a great electric lawn mower and doing it yourself. You can pick up an Ego mower for between $400-$1000. I love mine, but … if I’ve got to be honest, I love my little robot lawn mowers more.

Which one is better? They’re equal as far as the cutting quality and reliability, but I’d give the edge to the Navimow for cost, but would recommend the Luba 2 for overall feature set, power, and robustness. If you have a large yard or lots of slopes/hills, the Luba 2 is going to probably handle it like a champ.

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