Honda Miimo review: The robot that makes mowing child’s play
Autonomous cars may be one of the hottest talking points in technology right today, but autonomous tech can help out in plenty of other ways too, as I’ve been discovering recently with Honda’s robotic lawnmower, the Miimo.
It looks nothing like a Honda Civic, yet this clever little fella can trim a sizeable garden all on its own, and it’s more fun to watch than Jenson Button in his Honda-powered McLaren.
Setup and go
Honda’s technicians need to fit a perimeter wire around the edge of the area to be cut first – so the Miimo knows where to mow – and hook up the charging station to your mains supply, but once this is done, there’s very little left to do. After a few presses of the buttons to set the cutting pattern and timer, plus a short charge for the onboard lithium-ion batteries, off it goes, eerily and silently slicing through the grass.
Honda has a bit of history with robotics. Its Asimo humanoid robot is so advanced it can even play football or pour a drink. And Miimo has a mind of its own, slowing and turning when it senses the perimeter wire hidden in the grass or when it bumps into something it shouldn’t – like the dog lying in the sunshine who didn’t hear it coming up behind her (yes, the Miimo is that quiet).[gallery:1]
It’s a captivating thing to watch at work – especially when it decides it needs to return to base to feed on a bit more power. Even when it’s busy at the very end of my 300ft-long garden, it will know how much power it needs to return home. It will aim for the flat plastic base that’s secured in a corner of the garden, picking up on the perimeter wire then slowly crawling into bed to go to sleep, connecting with the hidden charging plug first, of course. It’s a real conversation stopper – I’m sure the birds in the garden have stopped to watch, too.
You’ll notice from the sleek, small, spacecraft-like looks that there’s no horrible grass-collecting box. Miimo’s three blades are whipped around at speed under its plastic lid thanks to a 25W motor (there’s a 10W motor on each wheel, too) so the grass is cut so small you won’t notice the clippings.
It takes a week or so to settle down, leaving telltale clumps of grass if Miimo’s height setting is too low or the grass too long. But eventually, you’ll think the gardener’s been with his usual mower and piled the cuttings high on the compost heap. In fact, the clippings are so small, they stay in the lawn, acting as shade for the roots and composting down – very healthy and eco-friendly.[gallery:4]
Despite the lack of stripes, the finish is seriously impressive: short and even. You won’t win awards for pretty patterns, but one of the many available settings is for Miimo to cut in a circular fashion for a slightly more interesting design.
What you will have, though, is time on your hands: the Miimo is as maintenance-free as it gets. It doesn’t need cleaning, can be left out (and running) in all weathers, and will get on with the job without complaint. Honda recommends a once-over once a year with replacement blades, and there’s a two-year warranty for peace of mind.
Then there’s the price. The smaller of the two Miimos costs £1,665 (the 310), which is suitable for lawns up to 2,000m2. Our larger one (the 520), which will mow your 3,000m2 garden, is £1,915. Gulp. You can spend an awful lot less or a fair bit more on a lawnmower, but being the lazy type, I pay a gardener to trim my turf.
For the cost of the Miimo, I could have had 64 visits from our man Mike. Assuming Miimo lasts more than a couple of years, we’ll be quids in. And let’s be honest, watching a robotic lawnmower at work is a whole lot more interesting than a sweaty bloke trudging up and down your garden.