In a manner of speaking, the lawn mower is illustrative of the history of technological evolution. First people pushed it, then sat atop it, and now they can watch the machine’s work from the comfort of a garden lounger—robot mowers have long been able to mow an entire lawn automatically.

The robot lawn mower operates continually. Steering software and sensors determine its path 1. Sensors in the bumpers and distance, tilt and weather sensors deliver cues for the best path to take. If there are obstacles in the way, the robot mower can drive around them 2.

The majority of robot mowers require owners to enclose the lawn with a perimeter wire 3, either laid in the ground or buried just below the surface, thereby demarcating the area to be mowed. The wire normally carries an electrical current 4, which is recognized by the robot mower through induction—it won’t drive over the wire.

This lawn mower usually only interrupts its work if there is rain or if it needs to recharge its built-in battery in the charging station 5. Thus the lawn is always cut short and you don’t have to do anything. If you’d rather do the pushing yourself, of course, no one is going to stop you.