Robot Zoo Wombat Mower Review – Introduction
If you’ve been looking for an independent Robot Zoo Wombat Mower Review, look here.
What we’ve done is to take a sample of a review done by PCmag for another mower, and adapt it to describing the Wombat. Okay, that should take care of the acknowledgements & attributions, so here goes.
What’s so good about a robot mower anyway?
Are you tired of paying a landscaper to cut your lawn? Do you not want to spend your Saturdays pushing a lawnmower in the hot sun? Then let a robot do it for you.
The Robot Zoo Wombat is a feature packed mowing device that cuts it when it comes to tough Australian lawns. Robot Zoo (yes, we’re talking about ourselves in the ‘third person’) is a newcomer on the scene, bringing robots into the home. Our mission is to gather together in one place a menagerie of family-friendly devices that will do the household chores.
The Wombat is the fourth generation of a line of devices that were originally developed way back in 2004. It is designed for larger lawns of up to 2,600 sqm (28,000 square feet). Its offspring, the Wombat Joey is a smaller, even smarter, 5th generation mower.
The Elevator Pitch
If you need seven smart reasons to choose a Robot Zoo mower, look here.
The Wombat comes with a powerful, 6.6Ah, 27.6V Lithium Ion battery, and everything else you need to completely automate your lawn-cutting chores.
Depending on the size of your lawn, it can take some time just installing the perimeter wire within the boundaries of your yard. And if you want to take advantage of all the scheduling and lawn subarea features, setting up the system needs to be done. But if you’re not worried about that, once the base station is plugged in and the boundary wire is set up, the mower can go straight away. When everything is good to go, the Wombat will do an excellent job in keeping your lawn neat & tidy. The mower isn’t cheap, but it will last, and if you currently pay a landscaper to cut your lawn, the Wombat will pay for itself over time. Alternatively, your landscaper can do more value added work such as trimming the hedges or pruning the roses. Just mowing the lawn really is a waste of their talents.
Pricing, Design, and Features
Robot Zoo lists the Wombat at $1,749 AUD. The smaller Wombat Joey is listed at $1,397 AUD. While the Wombat is rated for 2,600 sqm, the Wombat Joey is rated for 1,800 sqm. Both devices have a sleek design. They look like the bonnet portion of a car, with caster wheels at the front (dual for the Wombat, and single for the Joey), and large diameter drive wheels at the rear.
They have a heavy duty UV & weather resistant black plastic cover that can be pulled off, The cover makes them weather resistant, so you can leave them out in the elements without fear of rust or water damage. The inbuilt rain detectors make sure that the mowers will return back to their charging station when it showers (cutting grass in the rain can be ineffective, even for robots).
Does size Matter?
The Wombat is sizable, measuring 60 cm (24 in.) long by 46 cm (18 in.) wide by 48cm (11 in.) high, and weighs in at 18kg (51 lb.). The plastic cover acts as a safety device and bumper, It has built-in sensors which will stop the blades from rotating if it senses downward pressure. And others which make the mower to change direction when it comes in contact with any obstacle (or the boundary wire). The mower uses a gyro compass to keep it going straight when on a slope. And it and can navigate slopes of up to 30 degrees. It will cut off at 45 degrees to prevent from tipping over.
Cutting to the Chase
Some other mowers have a fixed rotor spinning at high RPM. That design which will chop through anything that is hard or soft, which we think is a safety issue. Importantly, with the Robot Zoo Wombat and Wombat Joey mowers, the cutting blades are small non-fixed pivoted blades that freely spin on the circumference of the central rotor disk (check the pictures). This means that when they hit a hard object they will bounce back rather than plough through it. Also, there is a skirting guard underneath the mower to prevent probing objects from getting to the blades.
These safety features are what impress us most about the Robot Zoo Wombat and Wombat Joey mowers. The blades cleanly cut the tops of the grass clippings into very fine pieces. This means you don’t have to bag your grass trimmings! They become mulch that will eventually work its way back into the soil. The blades are easy to install and replace, and can be cheaply sourced from eBay and elsewhere.
For the Control Freaks
The top of the mower has a control panel with a monochrome LCD that displays key settings. These include the date, time, battery status (charging or fully charged), mowing schedule status (on or off), and the next scheduled operation time. There’s a Go button used to begin manual operation and to select menu options. There are arrow buttons for navigating the menus, and a Return button that takes you back to the previous menu page. Importantly, there’s a safety kill switch. There’s also a carry handle that shuts down the mower when you pull it. And a panel that pops open to reveal a mowing height adjustment knob with a height indicator.
Yes, there is an App
You can use the control panel to program the Wombat, or you can use the free iOS or Android app. The app has a user-friendly interface that lets you connect to the mower through WiFi. It also allows for manual control of the mower. It’s much easier to do this than use the smallish LED on the mower itself.
The menu structure consists of Area Options and Mower Options pages. Area Options pages are where you go to set up Schedules, Operations (Intensity and Intervals), and Areas. The settings let you determine how many operations it will take to cover your lawn size and the Interval level lets you select mowing days. You can adjust settings depending on lawn growth rates during different times of the year. If your lawn is one big area without fences, sidewalks, or other obstacles that will impede the mower, then you’ll only need one zone with one perimeter wire. Otherwise you can create sub-areas and separated areas. A sub-area is an area the mower can access directly from the main area and is connected to the main perimeter wire, while a separated area requires its own perimeter wire. For example, a median strip between the street and footpath in front of your house can be covered by laying wire across the footpath (say in an expansion joint), and around the perimeter of the median strip. In this case, the mower may need to be carried over the footpath to the median strip, but it will happily work in that area.
Mower Options include a password feature that locks the control panel buttons, an Anti-Theft feature that sounds an alarm if the mower is unintentionally removed from its base, and a Rain Sensor that will halt operation on rainy days.
What’s in the Box?
The mower comes with a base station for charging the battery, a power adapter with a 4 metre DC extension cable, 100 metres of perimeter wire, wire joiners. 100 plastic perimeter wire pegs, four stainless steel base station pegs, and an owner’s manual. There is no remote, it’s been replaced by the smartphone WiFi app to guide the mower to wherever it needs to go.
So How Clever is it, Really?
The Wombat doesn’t use mapping technology like the Roomba and Neato robotic vacuums. Its mowing pattern is entirely random within the perimeter, and coverage is based on the area size and the mowing intensity level. Because there are so many options, programming the Wombat can be a bit time consuming. But the WiFi app makes this task much easier than using the control panel on the mower.
Like a lot of home care robots, the Wombat program is to be active at specific times and days. Some mowers have you program times and days when they will not be active using the Inactive Times setting. The mower starts cutting grass during active hours, returning to the base whenever it needs to be recharged (after up to 3-4 hours). Once the battery is fully charged, it will resume cutting, if necessary. For very large lawns, a single cycle may take several days depending on weather and allowable active hours. The idea is to let the mower handle the workload based on things like battery life, weather conditions, watering schedules, and grass height.