We're wary of making robots perform menial household tasks -- it won't reflect well on us once they become sentient and put the whole human race on trial for gross incompetence. But the idea of controlling a lawnmowing robot using an iPhone is just too tempting to pass up.
That's exactly what lawnmower and chainsaw maker Husqvarna has cooked up, with an iPhone application that tells its high-end robot mowers when to start mowing, when to cease and return to their chargers, and a bunch of other stuff too.
It's all handled via text message. There's a SIM card nestled in the lawnmower's innards that receives those messages, and the mower itself is programmed to recognise certain commands. The app basically just sends out specifically worded texts to the SIM's phone number, causing the robot to start murdering grass.
An example command is 'Set Start', but it's also possible to program in a mowing schedule using texts. Click through the photos above for some examples of the kind of commands the mowers respond to. In theory you don't need the iPhone app -- a text from any phone will do. But the commands can be quite complex, so it's handy to have an app to sort it all out for you.
The Husqvarna Automower 260 ACX (which retails for a modest £3,500) can also text back -- letting you know its GPS co-ordinates in the event some chancer breaks into your garden and makes off with your fancy mower.
The iPhone app -- which should be available in the App Store soon -- also has a built-in spirit-level, so you can measure the precise angle of your lawn. Perfect for highly strung horticulturists.
Mowing the lawn is certainly due a high-tech makeover. We'd start with the name. Forget mowing -- this is blade slicing. You can have that one for free, Husqvarna.