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Why You Need Machine Learning in Your Robotic Mower

The Kress robotic mower uses RTK technology as an example of machine learning.

September 14, 2023

It seems that everywhere you turn right now, you hear someone talking about AI. You can use ChatGPT to help you finally write that novel. Because you watched an Autmow video, YouTube is suggesting you watch two other nerdy tech guys who crack Dad jokes. You can use your face to unlock your phone. 

So when people see all the cool stuff that robot mowers can do, they naturally think it’s because of AI. In fact, this station in Houston ran a whole story on AI in robotic mowers.

The only problem? That’s not really the best term. Saying that robotic mowers use AI is a bit like if someone asks you what you are going to wear to an event and you reply, “Clothes.” Strictly speaking, it is accurate, but it’s not precise enough. Robotic mowers actually use a special subset of AI. Robotic mowers use machine learning.

True, the difference may seem like it’s just semantics. However, machine learning is part of what makes robotic lawn mowers so helpful. Thus, we are here to set the record straight.

What is the difference between AI and Machine Learning?

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. If you didn’t remember that, you may also have forgotten the classic 1991 film starring Haley Joel Osment as a robot. And that’s a damn shame.  But we digress…

To understand AI, you need to understand what it isn’t. Most computer software does the same thing every time depending on whatever inputs a human gives it. For example, if you hit a certain key while typing, the same symbol will appear on the screen every time. 

AI is different. In really general terms, it is computer software that, much like humans, can learn from past experience. It doesn’t just do the same thing over and over again based on what a human tells it to. Instead, it changes outputs depending on the data it sees around it. In other words, it can problem solve and make decisions. 

Back to our typing example, AI is the part of the program that can guess what you are hoping to say because it has learned what most humans write in certain contexts.

Machine Learning

Machine learning is a special subset of artificial intelligence. Therefore, all machine learning (ML for short) is AI.  But not all AI is ML.

Machine learning is focused on using large data sets to help a machine perform a really complex task. For example, after enough data, machine learning helps a computer program sort photos by colors or by someone’s face. 

Or… (you guessed it!) machine learning can help a mower figure out the most efficient patterns to cut your lawn.

As Coursera points out, machine learning is the most common form of AI that humans encounter today.

And it is exactly what makes robotic lawn mowers so frickin’ cool.

How Robotic Mowers Use Machine Learning

To understand how a machine learning is helping the latest and greatest robot lawn mower models, it may be helpful to rewind back to when robotic lawn care was in its infancy. Robot mowers would need a boundary wire. You would let the robot loose on the property, and it would just randomly go in a direction until it hit the boundary. Then it would turn and go in another direction. Similarly, when the mower hit an obstacle with its bumper, it would turn and go in another direction. When it was low on battery, the robotic lawn mower would return to charge.

Newer models, with ML, take a different approach. They do not need a wire to establish boundaries. Plus, after just once or twice on the property, they learn the best patterns needed to cut the property most efficiently. This saves you battery life and ensures that your lawn is done in the shortest amount of time each mow.

As the technology in autonomous mowers continues to advance, even cooler ML innovations are on the horizon. For example, some models, such as new Kress robotic mowers, can now check weather reports and make decisions on whether the grass needs a mow or not.

Want to Learn More?

Obviously, what we have laid out here is just the very basics about machine learning in mowers. If you want to know more, contact Autmow today.  We are always happy to discuss all of the latest technological advances in robotic lawn care. And of course, we can help you determine which robot mower is the best fit for your needs.

We will even discuss more Haley Joel Osment movies with you if you want.  But be warned: we WILL spoil the ending of The Sixth Sense.

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