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Internet-enabled Robot to Mow Lawns 194

prostoalex writes "Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand built a lawnmower operated via the Internet. The device currently needs physical boundaries of the lawn, but later this year it will be able to navigate. Here's the page of Glenn Bright, the researcher quoted in the article, unfortunately, the links to the research group and list of projects appear to be broken."
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Internet-enabled Robot to Mow Lawns

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  • by Daimaou ( 97573 )
    Now I have even more reason to sit in front of my computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    21 percent faster with Opera?
  • Until somebody cracks your computer and goes on a rampage mowing down little children..
  • by Antity ( 214405 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:25PM (#4085676) Homepage

    Just imagine:

    • Go west
    • Go west
    • Go north
    • Mow monster
    • Go north
    • Examine roses
    • Mow roses
    • Go east
    • Look innocent.
  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:25PM (#4085677) Journal

    Why do they need an autonomous grass-cutting machine in NZ? Can't you just tie a sheep to a pole in the center of your yard and have him eat the grass for you?


  • by usurper_ii ( 306966 ) <<eyes0nly> <at> <>> on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:25PM (#4085679) Homepage
    I can't wait to see the virus that makes it mow down all the people in my address book!
  • Via the internet?!?

    Is that a good idea?

    One script kiddie, and you could lose a few toes!
  • by BgJonson79 ( 129962 ) <> on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:26PM (#4085686)
    is a machine to mow the lawn. For the love of God... it's the only exercise I get!
  • Where do you want to mow today?
  • ... what do you think we have all those sheep for?

    (You Aussies are not allowed to answer this question!).

  • Why don't you have a look at my Real Racer's [] insanity as well. Remore (as in REMOTE) controlled cars. Here's an introduction.

    Do you think we have reached the climax of reality in gaming? Well, you were wrong so read on. This article contains cooking intructions for games that mix physical reality, virtual world and interaction using techniques and devices available of-the-shelf.

  • so old in fact there there are commercial products available already that DO navigate on their own.

    and other than the slashdot 'contect everything to the internet' mentality, WHY do i need my lawnmower hooked up to the internet?

    if you say something like 'to get blade spin data and average grass length' or something idiotic like that, well you could just USB enable it, and download the data when you were finished. a 'mowbot' should not be required to be controlled.

    another stupid /. story...
    • because you can't walm and can't afford someone else to do it.
      because you are out of town for a month.
      because you ahve mower on each green and you don't want to pay people to mow them
      because you want to be able to over-ride a lawn-mower that navigate on there own.

      • sorry to do this and seem arguementative:
        2 of your reasons are based on money... if you can afford a mowbot, you can afford *$5* to some neighborhood kid that will use his own lawnmower and gas... (wear and tear on your mowbot would probably be equal, plus you would have to put the money up front just to HAVE it!)

        so money as a reason: NO.

        next: navigation.
        if you want to control your lawmower, PUSH IT. if you want a radio control lawnmower, those are available. the reason to have this mowbot is unattended mowing.

        so navigation as a reason: NO.

        now the vacation one is interesting... yes you are gone for a month, and being able to go to and send it out would be nice. downside: you would have to leave it out in your yard with a power source (battery) that will probably die by month end. also because after you say "MOW MY LAWN" it has to be outside or able to get outside to mow it and go around your yard. what i'm getting at: someone is going to steal your lawnmower. solution: GPS TRACKING! now we have a $2,000 lawnmower that is going to get stole, that needs to be manually overridden to work right, just so we can save $5 and help a hard working kid make a few bucks.

        friend, you are a moron.
    • From what I recall, the internet capabilities reside mostly on the ability to start and stop the mower, at which point it's a random wander around and mow everything within set boundaries. Even if it were scriptkiddied, the most you could do is turn it on at unscheduled time, unless more precise control was available. Other than the internet based option, lawn mowers that do exactly this are available as consumer products.

      As for the mentality that all toasters should be online, it seems silly, and I can agree to some point, even though my website is devoted to this very activity. The internet is simply an additional medium through which you can control your appliances. And while 99.99% of the time, you're going to turn your oven on and off while standing in front of it, there could be times you wish you could turn it off while you were away. Forget to close your garage? Forget to set the VCR to record something? Front door locked? Want to give the AC a 15 minute head start? None of these features are REQUIRED, but they add benefits to our lives, sometimes in unexpected ways. To deny the possible because it serves no immediate useful purpose, will fail to inspire someone else to take some halfbaked idea and turn it into the next remarkable invention that we can't live without.

      You don't need YOUR lawn mower on the internet. And right now, neither does anyone else. But there will always be those that will find it beneficial, and someday you may directly or indirectly reap the benefits as well.

  • by nairnr ( 314138 )
    Chalk up another excuse not to mow the lawn. It is currently being DOS'ed...
  • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:31PM (#4085732)
    unfortunately, the links to the research group and list of projects appear to be broken.

    Yeah, apparently something cut the fiber line to their ISP.
  • Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand unveiled a new defense against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. Popuar tech website, Slashdot [] is a well known attacker to many small sites. The defense employs a technique known as broken links to prevent such attacks. The groups plans to patent the technique and license the technology to several security firms.
  • LawnSpam (Score:2, Funny)

    by kmahan ( 80459 )
    Next thing spammers will be sending spam to the Mowbot -- which will reciprocate by mowing the spam message into the lawn. The neighbors will be all over my case for the 6' (obnonus: 2m) letters spelling out porn sites and make money fast scams.

  • This really isn't a new thing - the sharper image [] has been selling robot lawn mowers for a few years now. Just say the words "robot" and "internet" in the same sentence, and suddenly it becomes a slashdot article. . .
  • ...surely they'd be even more impressed with this []. I mean, geez -- is the mowbot thing really news?
  • Now if only I could get an internet operated kitchen sink so that it could wash my dishes while I was away :)

    Or perhaps internet-operated borg assassins with built-in wi-fi :D
  • It is operated through a web page, according to the article. But what about encryption? Do you want somebody to sniff your password and let your lawn mower go berzerk?

    Try to explain this to a lawyer...

    The next step is an automatic vacuum cleaner, Bright said.

    Sure. I'm looking forward for the pr0n spam mails for this device...

  • by Target Drone ( 546651 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:36PM (#4085766)
    From the article: The mower was developed in collaboration with lawnmower and chainsaw company Husqvarna

    I'm going to wait for the remotely operated chainsaw.

  • by Caine ( 784 )
    Hmm, the family which we traditionally celebrate midsummer eve with have had one of these for ages (at least 5 years). As far as I know it wasn't internet connected though, but could navigate their yard without problems, cutting the grass suitably as it went (and they have a big yard with lots of trees). They do live near Huskvarna, Småland in Sweden though (where the mower in the article was manufactured) so it's possible it was some kind of prototype they've gotten their hands on.
    • I was thinking about this too. Since I've seen those before. But I think this is a new model.

      The old one didn't use a camera, it had one of those "electric fenses" you dig down. Put it a few inches into the ground and the mower detects it when it gets close.

      Those were on all the time though. And were solar powered. (They were programmed to stop if it rained and such though. And could "go home" to recharge if needed.)

      They have some stuff on their page about it in Swedish [] and in English []. (The Swedish version contains more info, and a flash demo to boot.)

      Last I saw they were developing a vacuum cleaner as well. Well, there are working prototypes, but I haven't heard of any available for purchase.
  • robot lawnmowers have been around for at LEAST 20 years. I made one back in the 80's from a series in Byte magazine using a KIM-1 as the brain.

    or a simple search on google gives hundreds of ready to buy models... Like this one here
    • is the link that was supposed to be in that post....

      Gotta love how slashcode will butcher things... although I guess I shoulda pressed preview
  • Internet-enabled Robot to Mow Lawns - becomes addicted to pr0n instead, grass now 3 feet high.

  • I wonder if it will take in consideration to all the obstacles of a common hoses, the kid's bikes, dog crap, a battlemech treehouse []...

  • Then it's your prized orchids that are cut and not the grass?
  • So when you order the mower to get her lawn ornaments that you have hated for so long, you can throw your hands up and say "well, I loved that little windmill too, but honey, ITS THESE DARN HACKERS."
  • All these ideas are never usable because of power concerns. The science has been there for years but who is going to want a mower that can only mow for 30 minutes before a recharge? How about after two years when the battery is down to 10 minutes? All of these technologies will only become worth while when fuel cells take off. Mow the lawn take, take a drink of hydrogen, chase some children down the street due to "erroneous user commands"
  • % date
    Sun Aug 18 09:46:36 CEST 2002
    % ping -f -s 65000


  • Besides the coolness of an autonomous lawnbot, BOY, WHEN CAN WE INSTALL LINUX ON ONE OF THESE?! Yeah, it's a troll and I'm lovin' every minute of it :)
  • Am I the only one who cannot wait till some 12-old c8l h4x0r will make all neighbornhoods lawn mowers to cut HIS grass 5 times a week ?
  • by Casca ( 4032 )
    I wonder what security devices they will use on the things. It would kind of suck to have someone stop by and toss your $3000 dollar lawn mower in their trunk, and drive off, while you watch helplessly from the Internet.
  • I am just waiting for MowZilla! Just don't run beta releases around small children.
  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:56PM (#4085890) Journal
    August 16, 2003 - Internet-Enabled Lawnmower Man becomes self aware

    August 17, 2003 - has sex with unsuspecting client. Dissatisfaction with the incident leads to the creation of a companion: Internet-Enabled Chainsaw Woman

    August 18, 2003 - The Ambiguously-Lawnmowing-Chainsawing Duo begin a massive telemarketing scheme to take over the world

  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @05:56PM (#4085892)
    This [] is the sight for the lawnmower, however, it does not mention connections to the internet. Perhaps it is the base model that the university modified?
  • Couldn't they get Karel the Robot [] to do this?

    OK, he would have to do something with his beepers, and he is physically challenged (what with his inability to turn left), but still!
  • Isn't "mowing the lawn" supposed to be a romantic thing? I know if i'm with the GF in the shower and instead of little scissors I bust out RobotBoxMower2002, I can put myself in /dev/null/ for the night.
  • What if you accidentally run over the CAT5 with your mower!?
  • I remember reading about this in one of those airling expense toys catalogs. There's a similar thing that works a little differently. You bury a cable around the edges of your lawn, and around trees/shrubs/non-mowed areas. Put this thing out there and it does it's business, turning whenever it encounters the underground cable. At $500 it's not all that much more expensive than a decent mower already is.
    It's not internet enabled, but is it really all that safe to be mowing remotely anyhow? At least sit in the hammock with a cold brew and make sure it doesn't hit your neighbor's kids or something.

    Here's some links;
    Robomower w/ video of it in action! []
    Robomower []
  • The laser mower would be more efficient than a robot. You place a laser in the middle of your yard and when you flip the switch, it rotates and makes one 360 degree pass and your're done.

  • After reading the headline, I scrolled down, glanced at the fortune line which was:

    Robot, n.: University administrator.

    Now, that I'd like to see. . . "Chancellor, you missed a patch over by the garden!"
  • by ( 89271 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:17PM (#4086032)
    Yeah, I already have an internet-connected robot that mows the lawn. It's called a teenager.

  • unfortunately, the links to the research group and list of projects appear to be broken

    Great, the lawnbot can't even tell the difference between a T1 and grass...

    On a related note, the cheif research assistant was also missing his wallet, dog, and 2 children.

  • "What our technology allows us to do is to control lawnmowers and other robotic devices while people are away at work," Massey University's Glen Bright told Reuters.
    It looks like they also are selling the service to mow your lawn with this thing while you're away. I wonder how many unemployeed geeks could go work for this company and mow lawns for a living. I never thought I'd want to mow lawns for a living, but if I can telecommute, that's all good.
  • Why? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rorschach1 ( 174480 ) on Friday August 16, 2002 @06:24PM (#4086062) Homepage
    12 million sheep in a country of 3 million people and they still need to cut grass mechanically?

  • A network controlled lawnmower... I guess if you flipped it over like a helicopter and added a gatling gun you would have one of those hovering killers from the movie Terminator. Add some AI to the controlling box and presto! Maybe a webcam on the mover with some motion recognition code. Frontend it with a small cluster and... Sounds like a weekend project!
  • (Que booming announcer voice)

    Internet enabled snow blower!!
    Internet enabled dog collar!!
    Internet enabled Popeil Pocket Fisherman!!

    Slapping an X10 camera on something will become the equivalent of "case modding"

  • From the article;

    The mower was developed in collaboration with lawnmower and chainsaw company Husqvarna, part of the Sweden-based AB Electrolux home appliance maker.

    The next step is an automatic vacuum cleaner, Bright said.

    Husqvarna has sold a self-propelled, self-navigating autonomous lawnmower [] for YEARS.

    The automatic vacuum cleaner [] (also fully autonomous, fully self-navigating) was introduced over a year ago.

    (Linked pages are in Swedish, sorry about that. I did not find an English page at these companies' sites.)
  • I said to myself "here's another situation where the Slashdot article has missed some crucial detail that make everything clear. Why don't I toddle over to the link and see if I can see why one might want a lawn mower connected to the internet."

    Having done that, I now feel justified in asking WTF is the point of and internet connected lawn mower? Marketing. I'm convinced it's marketing because I can see zero reason that you'd actually want your lawn mower attached to the internet. So that it can order gas refills? So that you can manually start the mower? (Ignorant of the fact that your toddler is playing on the lawn - just out of view of the web-cam that's part of the package.) Or is it really that the mower is just a robot on a timer, with a webcam on your house. For marketing.

    I mean, otherwise, whee, what a fun hack target? What's a better thing to play with over the internet than something that actually moves and cuts things and generally causes mayhem? Simply cannot beat the idea of chasing cats halfway across the world with someone else's robot mower.

    Makes me despair the species, you know?

  • one of these things killed some Turing Police who were chasing Case. Shouldn't we have learned by now?!?
  • When it comes to mowing lawns this [] is all I and every other self-respecting geek really needs.

    That is unless you have five riding mowers , five friends, one big yard and a shitload of paintballs.

How long does it take a DEC field service engineer to change a lightbulb? It depends on how many bad ones he brought with him.