Husqvarna Automower Challenge - Communication

For a bit of background on this see my first post on this.

But, in summary, I am a participant in the automower challenge.

Automower Connect

The larger Automowers (430X, 450X) support a smartphone app called "Automower Connect" which allow you to configure and control the mower from your iPhone.

Unlike some competing products, this doesn’t use WiFi. This is a good thing as the range of a typical home WiFi router would mean that in some parts of larger garden it would be unable to communicate.

Instead the mower itself has a built-in SIM card and functions like a mobile phone. The SIM is provided by Husqvarna, and there is no contract or ongoing service charges for the connected services.

This also provides a means of alerting non-smartphone owners if the mower is removed from its authorised area using SMS.

A Swedish Guest

The SIM in the lawnmower appears to be international, using a +46 number from Husqvarna's native Sweden. The lawnmower, in my case, roaming onto Vodafone UK's 2G network.

This provides UK owners with an additional advantage - the mower should work on almost any network, meaning it’s likely you will get a signal pretty much anywhere as long as some network has 2G coverage.

2G not 3G

I’m also impressed by the mower’s antenna design, as the mower is able to get a signal even where my phone cannot. I live in the middle of nowhere, and get no mobile service here on any network.

Indeed, there is only one network with any 2G signal at all - Vodafone, and only one cell

Also, the mower uses 2G only - 2G signals typically travel better than their 3G (or 4G/LTE) counterparts, and offer a perfectly adequate data connection with simple GPRS to provide service to 'connected devices'

Sweden and IoT

Interestingly, Sweden has been rather forward-thinking and allocated an entire number range (+46 71 910) for M2M use for connected devices / "internet of things" etc, keeping this use segregated from the normal mobile networks. This is in contrast to the UK, where these services typically use 'normal' mobile numbers (07xxx)

Full disclosure: I am participating in a competition that means, in exchange for reviewing these, I do receive a free unit. It does not, however, mean that I'm biased. I will be posting my experience of this little robotic critter over the coming months.