Think back to the days before we had easy access to GPS on our phones or in our cars. (For some readers, you may not be able to think back to such a time because you may not have ever known such a time. If so, kid, you are about to hear a horror story.)
What happened when you needed to get somewhere new? Well, you could pull out a map to plot your course. You could ask someone else who knew the way. Or you could just wing it, hoping you would get to your destination without too much confusion. No matter what, it was much more inefficient and much less reliable than what is now available with a quick click.
And what’s even more accurate than our beloved modern-day GPS? RTK (which stands for real-time kinematic) is a unique form of differential GPS that provides approximately 100x greater accuracy than the standard GPS you’re used to.
Now, many robotic mowers with GPS are out on the market, as well as some top-of-the-line RTK options. These models have taken what was already pretty incredible technology and made it even better.
But of course, as with any innovation, the natural question is if the improved technology is worth the cost.
In the case of GPS vs. RTK robotic mowers, there are several factors. Let’s explore in a little more depth to explain why.
How do robotic mowers with RTK work?
The first step to understanding why robotic mowers with RTK are a good investment is understanding precisely what these machines are capable of and how they do it.
One key difference between robot mowers without RTK and robot mowers with RTK is apparent the very first time you use it. Without RTK, you would have to put a boundary wire around the property to tell the mower when to stop. With RTK, once you virtually map your property using the mower and app, the mower knows the boundaries without the need for wires.
Some people—such as this reviewer—may still tell you to put boundary wire around your property with a RTK-equipped autonomous mower because the RTK isn’t precise enough. That was true back in 2020. But today’s models, such as those from Husqvarna’s CEORA, are accurate within 2 or 3 centimeters. And even that number is improving all the time.
During the first few uses of your RTK robotic mower, the actual mowing of the property might not seem too different from a non-RTK robotic mower. The difference though, is that the RTK mower will begin systematic cut once it’s determined its starting point, instead of a sporadic mowing pattern.
But you’ll notice the biggest differences after just a few times mowing. A robotic mower that is not equipped with RTK will just keep mowing in that sporadic pattern forever, bouncing around from boundary to boundary and obstacle to obstacle.
Robotic mowers with RTK, on the other hand, are always collecting data. After the first few uses, it will create a digital map of your lawn, learning its size and shape. From there, it begins to design the most efficient way to cut your grass (again, with very little overlap due to the precision within just a few centimeters.)
As the mower continues to operate, it will continuously revise its route. As a result, you get the most efficient cut possible.
The advantage of robotic mowers with rtk
Robot lawnmowers that have RTK wield two key advantages over those that do not:
More intelligent, more efficient mowing: Though we have discussed this above, it bears repeating because it is the most significant advantage of a RTK-equipped robotic mower. Autonomous mowers with RTK will not mow the same blades of grass twice nearly as often as those without. As a result, the machine does not run as long on each mow, leading to less need for maintenance or replacement. You also don’t get a bunch of track marks on the grass from frequent driving. Finally, if only part of the grass needs the mowing, the robotic mower can find that patch if it has RTK.
Easy and efficient setup: Honestly, this is a big one. As the RTK-equipped technology improves, there is less that you have to do to set it up. Boundary wires are often not required. Besides, you will always get very clear setup instructions (even someone to help you set up the mower, if you need it).
The drawback of robotic mowers with RTK
Of course, robotic lawnmowers with RTK aren’t absolutely perfect compared to their GPS counterparts. If so, we wouldn’t need to write this article! Again, there are two main points to consider:
Higher cost upfront: With all technology, the more advanced it is, the higher the price tag, especially when it first comes out. Such is the case with RTK on robot mowers. Though the price is dropping, these models are more expensive than GPS mowers. And truthfully, they always will be, since they have added features. That said, because robot mowers with RTK cut your lawn so much more efficiently, you end up saving money in the long run. But still, you do have to pay more at purchase.
Unproven Technology: We don’t mean to cast RTK in a bad light, but it’s worth considering that it’s newer technology than our tried-and-true wired units. The fact of the matter is, the lessons and hurdles of wireless technology are still being learned and adapted to. Though the technology has improved greatly (and will continue to do so), there may be instances where it might struggle more for the time being.
Next steps when looking at robotic mowers with rtk
Again, in our view, the RTK robot mowers are the way of the future. However, we are happy to help you find the perfect robotic lawn care solution for your needs—with or without this added feature.
Contact the experts at Autmow today, and we can answer all your questions about all of the different models of robotic mowers. We can even show you some demos so that you find the robot mower of your dreams!