Considering how wildly popular robotic vacuum cleaners have become over the last few years, it was only a matter of time before robotic lawnmowers started popping up on lawns around the neighbourhood. So it makes sense that ECOVACS, the creators of some seriously good robovacs, would branch out with the new GOAT G1.
Naturally, the brand reached out to ask if Gizmodo Australia wanted to try the little gadget that — just like its presumed namesake — hangs out in your backyard constantly chewing your grass. Of course, we said yes because the future is here and it’s a ride.
The ECOVACS GOAT G1
The ECOVACS GOAT G1 is a little robotic lawn mower that potters around your backyard, mowing and mulching your lawn. It includes a wire-free boundary setting, a TrueMapping Multi-fusion localization system, intelligent path planning and innovative AIVI 3D obstacle avoidance — all of which my partner and I spent a good few hours (and weeks) thoroughly testing. According to the brand, it’s perfect for medium to large-sized lawns, and can efficiently mow areas up to 1,600m squared, since the G1 mows around 600m squared in just one day.
The setup process
Unlike other robot lawnmowers, you don’t need someone to come and install a wire boundary, or put in hours of manual labour installing one yourself. ECOVACS has taken the difficulty out of the setup and designed the G1 to have an app-enabled automated boundary setting. Traditional electronic wire boundaries are replaced by ultra-wideband (UWB) signal beacons that can be strategically placed around the edge of the lawn. ECOVACS rule of thumb is for a 600m squared garden, only two to four beacons need to be installed before remotely driving the GOAT around the lawn edge via the app to set its boundaries.
Our garden, front and backyard inclusive, is around 100m^2 or so, and a bit of a L-shape around the house, so we ended up needing around five beacons. For optimum mowing, your beacons should be within 40 or so meters of each other with a nice crossover and nothing obstructing them so that not a blade of grass is missed.
You’ll also need to set up your charging station/ home base for the GOAT. It’s pretty simple, you just need a central space in your backyard that’s free from obstruction and within reach of a power outlet.
The brand advised us that setting up the boundary is typically a “stress-free 20-minute process”, however, it probably took us a little over an hour, purely because it took us a while to figure out our beacon configurations, set up the home base/charging station and then map the lawn so that the robot lawn mower won’t stray outside of its designated mowing area. A process that slowly drove my partner insane when he made a mistake while mapping and had to start all over again.
Once we had the entire lawn mapped, the app prompted us to go back and add in no-mow areas and permanent obstacles like outdoor furniture, a driveway, garden paths etc. We had to add in a few things like our firepit, the driveway and some pathways, and it was relatively simple, you just drive the little mower to the area and outline it as a no-go zone.
After those few things were added to our smart mapping, the little robot, or Moe, as we’ve fondly named it, then takes itself on a little stroll around the garden to do its own smart mapping. Once this part’s finished, all that’s left for you to do is program your mowing schedule, grass cut length and specifics in the app.
Control everything via the app
You can schedule the GOAT G1 to start or finish at any time you like, along with setting the grass trimming length. So if you think it needs a little more off the top or your grass grows particularly quickly after a few bouts of rain, you can adjust the settings as you go.
You can also monitor the battery life, and send it back home for a rest if need be. Plus, you can get alerts if the mower happens to gets stuck on anything in the garden so you can go and rescue it (something we had to do a few times).
As well as actually mowing your yard, the GOAT G1’s onboard 360-degree camera also serves as a remote home security camera, sending real-time notifications directly to your smartphone. We often giggle when our cocker spaniel goes out the back because you can hear the GOAT announcing that it’s recording for security purposes.
There are also tutorials and some blogs to read, too, which might come in handy if you’re keen to make the most out of the GOAT.
Will it ever run over or bump into anything?
Not really, if there’s something for it to manoeuvre around that isn’t a permanent fixture in your backyard, like say pets, hoses, and stones, the robotic mower just motors around it thanks to its AIVI 3D technology, and a 150-degree camera. For taller obstacles over 15 cm such as swing-sets and trees, the ToF sensor accurately estimates the distance and avoids them at a closer range to reduce patchy mowing. All that said, we did watch our little guy bump into a few things here and there while he was working stuff out. Thankfully, the GOAT has a little bumper guard, so you can avoid any major dings and things to the actual mower.
That said, you will still need to pop out fairly regularly to pick up any dog shit, if you’ve got a pup, or move any big sticks that might have fallen overnight, otherwise you might end up with a patchy lawn.
So how good is the GOAT G1 at actually mowing?
I won’t lie to you, we literally sat there and watched this thing mow the lawn like it was the latest season of The Witcher. It was weirdly fun to watch it do its thing. We were shocked at how well it actually mowed the lawn, it’s a slow and steady process for sure, but GOAT G1 records and recognises its location, so if it’s starting to run out of juice, it’ll automatically return to the charging station when needed and continue its work when ready.
After the novelty of watching it wore off, we left it to do its own thing while we were in the veggie patch, and it probably took a little over an hour to mow both the front and back yards. Once it was finished, it returned itself home to keep charging (and admire its work, probably). Typically, with a full charge, you should get around 100 minutes of battery life, according to ECOVACS, which I would agree is accurate.
It’s also worth noting that it mows the lawn in a very neat fashion (we’re talking little lines) and spits out the clippings as mulch, so you don’t have to worry about any kind of emptying process getting in the way.
If you like, the GOAT G1 can also use its smart camera to regularly check the lawn height and growth so that if things are looking a little overgrown, it can put itself to work — a pretty unique and smart function when you think about it.
Is the GOAT G1 weatherproof?
Honestly, I was worried the first time it rained considering the whole tech setup is outside. But the GOAT G1 has survived multiple storms now and is still just chilling in its dock, doing its job when required.
ECOVACS GOAT G1: The verdict
The ECOVACS GOAT G1 is smart, cuts grass pretty well considering minimal manual labour is involved (on your end anyway), doubles as a home security system, and requires very little intervention once it’s set up.
I think, like all good things, if you had the time and money to pour into it, it would be well worth the cost. If you’ve got a trickier yard (think hills, lots of trees, garden beds galore) or some acreage, it’s probably not for you. But if you have a small to medium, simple-shaped yard, and despise mowing your lawns, the GOAT G1 will be your best friend.
Where to buy the ECOVACS GOAT G1?
Right now, the little guy is on sale for just $2,599, but it would usually set you back $2,999 for the GOAT G1 and two beacons. If you have to buy additional beacons, they’ll cost you $199 each.
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