Robots continue to improve every year, taking on an increasing amount of our regular tasks that most of us don’t enjoy. I’ve reviewed robot vacuum cleaners from EcoVacs in the past and this year they added a robot lawn mower to the lineup.
The Goat G1 name may be a strange one on the surface, but when you consider goats (and sheep) have been deployed to keep grass short for many years, it’s a reasonable naming convention. GOAT can also mean ‘greatest of all time’ which for their first robot lawn mower, would be quite the claim.
Having lived with the robot mower for a few weeks now, and had it cut my backyard many times, it’s time to detail in a full review what’s on offer here, how well it performs and let you know if this should be on your Christmas list.
Robot lawnmowers have been around for a number of years, but have failed to take off in a major way. One of the key reasons for this is the setup process is a barrier to entry that most don’t want to deal with and combined with premium prices, adding a lawn mowing robot wasn’t something many were willing to jump on, despite Australians being known around the world for being early adopters of new tech.
That setup process traditionally included running a guide wire around your lawn and any objects (like trees, walkways etc). This was cumbersome as it required finding the right balance of burying the wire deep enough to not get cut as the mower rolled over it, and not too deep so the signal couldn’t be received.
Thankfully in 2023, there’s a better way to set the boundaries. EcoVacs wire-free boundaries are achieved thanks to wireless beacons that allow the robot to communicate wirelessly to build a virtual map. The battery-powered beacons come with a corkscrew design at the base that easily twists into the ground. When you buy the G1, you’ll normally get 2 of these beacons included, but depending on the size and configuration of your lawn, you may need additional sensors.
The mobile app allows you to set what the base layout is (rectangle, L shaped etc) and instructions on where to place them to have the best experience. Even after having to go through the setup and scan the QR code of the mower and each of the beacons with the mobile app, this is still, such a vastly better setup experience than the old wire system.
The G1 also uses its wireless antenna to communicate to its powered base, where it starts and ends its tasks, returning to recharge for the next time. Before commencing every job, the 360-degree camera gets cleaned with a set of brushes. Having watched the process several times, the brushing seems incredibly excessive given it’s ultimately just trying to knock off any dust to ensure the cameras have good visibility to navigate the yard.
Regarding the design of the mower itself, the EcoVacs Goat G1 cuts a sleek and futuristic figure on the lawn. While design is a very subjective, personal thing, I actually really love the exterior design here. The white/black colour scheme is clean and modern, complimented by a blue accent on the large oversized rear wheels to clearly show when it’s in motion, along with a bright red emergency stop button that’s easily accessible.
The front of the mower features a camera and sensor array, which combines with the 360 camera array on top, and serves two purposes. Not only does this vision system detect obstacles, pets, people and more and navigate around them, but you can also access a live video feed from the mower via your phone. While the mower is in action, these cameras allow you to monitor progress, or review obstructions if the mower gets stuck, when at rest, they turn into a security system to detect people within 7 meters of the device.
Underneath the robot, you’ll find the front wheels, which are passive, counter-balancing from the rotation of the powered rear wheels. Given the size of the wheels and the torque of the motors, the robot is very capable at moving around the yard, even transiting different surfaces with some height changes.
What was a surprise was the size of the blades underneath the mower. Ecovacs installed 4x oversized razorblades under the robot, a very different approach to the traditionally single, double-edged blade or 4x smaller blades of a substantial size.
You will also note that the robot mower does not feature a catcher. The design here dictates the way you use this will be to cut the grass more often than you traditionally would. Thanks to a great recharging system and scheduling system, you could run this every couple of days, trimming the top off of the blades of grass, rather than filling your green bin once every couple of weeks.
Finally, the design of the mower features straight edges on the side to get as close as possible to the edge, however the blades to do extend to the edge of the body, as such, it will need to over run the edge to actually trim it.
The Goat G1 features lots of features and from an established robot company, that’s produced vacuum cleaners, window cleaners and now lawnmowers, I’d expect nothing less.
Wire-free Boundary Setting
The generation leap in robot lawnmowers has arrived with wire-free boundaries. This is a significant improvement over previous generations and a very welcome change. Those buying robot mowers should definitely have this as a must-have feature on their list.
The Boundary Beacons are quick and easy to set up and allow the mower to build a virtual map of your house and lawn. Depending on the size of your lawn, you may need a number of these, as many as 5 or 6 on larger properties.
When going to work in a dynamic environment, there’s a strong chance it will encounter people, pets, or if you have kids, there’s a litany of objects that may have been left on the lawn. Rather than simply run into them and risk damage to the robot or 3rd party, EcoVacs have deployed their AIVI 3D obstacle avoidance technology.
This tech allows the G1 to detect and avoid any obstacle in its path. If you have areas of your lawn that you regularly want to avoid, then you can define virtual no-mow zones in the app with just a few taps.
TrueMapping Multi-fusion Localization System
TrueMapping technology ensures the robot has precise positioning and accurately navigates your home. This system on the G1 can cut in an efficiently. The reason mowing efficiency is so important is that it means you can achieve more mowing in a shorter period of time. The G1 could mow as much as a 600m2 garden in a single one day.
Anyone who has used smart robots in the past 5 years will be familiar with the crazy route they often take when completing the tasks we give them. The G1 uses a logical and uniform striped cutting pattern, creating a neat and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
In the app, you get to control the angle of the cut. This means if you want to stand out from the neighbours, you can have the robot cut at 90 degrees, 45 degrees, or everything in between.
The speed of the mower is best described as about half of your natural walking speed. This means with a decent-sized property, it’ll take a few hours to mow, even with its small blade design.
This can mean that the GOAT G1 needs to split the mowing task into shifts, returning to base to recharge. The robot records and recognizes its location, and can automatically return to the same position and resume the job until the whole task is completed.
You may be thinking about the theft of the robot, particularly if you plan on using it in public spaces or just your front yard. The deterrent offered by EcoVacs is an alarm that gets tripped when you lift the robot off the ground. When this happens a couple of things come into play. The alarm can only be shut off by entering a 4-digit security code, set when configuring the robot.
You will also get a mobile notification and there is also the option to review the footage from the robot, so hopefully you capture the person’s face in the event you have to engage the authorities.
The robot has the ability to detect if it’s raining and can protect itself by returning to the base during the rain. You can configure the amount of time it waits before attempting to resume mowing. This is a great feature as it’s really difficult to understand the prospect of rain ahead of time when setting a schedule. It wouldn’t be fun to return home and find a drowned robot, so thankfully this feature will help protect your investment.
The out-of-the-box experience starts with an assembly of the base, which clips together with a power cable. Thankfully we have an outdoor power outlet in our alfresco area, with a perfect exit onto the lawn in our backyard.
What I wasn’t expecting was a setup process that requires you to connect to your mower via Bluetooth (normally done on WiFi) and manually control it, navigating around the edges of your lawn to form the boundary in a virtual map.
Given how advanced today’s computer vision technology is, I really expected that the robot would go on an auto-discover exercise to build this automatically and map the edges accurately.
Once you do establish the map, your robot is ready for its first mow, and of course, you can configure a schedule to have this occur when you’re at work and the theory is you’ll return home to a beautiful fresh-cut lawn.
In my experience, the mower does a great job of cutting the grass, assuming you’ve first done an initial cut and run the robot regularly to keep the lawn short. The app advises you to keep it below 10cm and if you don’t, you run the risk of the object detection system identifying it as something it needs to avoid.
Having spent about an hour remapping the boundary 3 times, I got what I thought was a good model of my L-shaped backyard. Having set the mower to work, I was really keen to see the outcome. Watching TV from the couch inside, it was great to glance out the window and occasionally catch a glimpse of the robot working while I relaxed.
There was even a time when both the robot vacuum inside and the robot lawn mower outside, worked in harmony to do the chores we don’t enjoy.
While the vast majority of the mowing job was great, the dream was a little crushed when I saw the edges left untouched. Perhaps I could have adjusted the map again for the edge between the grass and concrete edging around the house, but it isn’t possible for the grass to garden edge. I think this is a result of the design, placing the edges of the blades inbound from the external chassis, while a traditional mower usually sees the blades incredibly close to the external blades.
No robot is perfect, and the Goat G1 is no exception. While the virtual boundaries work well, setting them up can be a bit fiddly initially. The app, though feature-rich, can be a little clunky at times.
Autonomously mowing our backyard is one thing, but we actually have a gate beside our house and an area with impassable rocks (despite the large wheels) between the grass out the front and the grass out the back. It’s not clear if Ecovacs expects people to have two robot lawnmowers to accommodate this or to lift up the mower and place it out the front, either way, I didn’t find a way to accommodate this in the mapping to make it a single task. You also can only have 1 map at a time in the app, so there’s no capacity to create a map for the front and rear and I would be prepared to buy 4 more beacons if necessary.
The distance between the blades and the edge of the mower means that mowing the edges of your lawn really isn’t possible in many circumstances and is something I hope they address in G2.
While the obstacle avoidance is impressive, it’s not foolproof, during one of the mowing runs, I was alerted that the mower was stuck. I ventured out to the backyard to find the robot humping the leg of the trampoline. The collision avoidance clearly avoided the vertical pole, but the horizontal section that sits on the grass was clearly not detected correctly.
Price & Availability
The Goat G1 isn’t cheap, at A$2,599.00 and that’s on special for Christmas, normally the G1 costs A$2,999.00.
A price tag of this level is likely to leave behind those casually entertaining the idea of buying a robot mower, but those who loathe mowing the lawn and have a yard that is conducive to automating this task, may find their way to justifying the return on investment.
If you need an additional Beacon, they are pretty expensive at A$199.00 each. If you need a new blade kit for the Goat G1, it’ll cost a more affordable A$29.90, ironically cheaper than most razer blades.
The Ecovacs GOAT G1 Robotic Lawn Mower is available from Ecovacs website and comes with a 3-year warranty.
The EcoVacs Goat G1 is a significant leap forward in robotic lawnmowers. The combination of a wire-free approach to setting the boundaries for your lawn feels like a step-change.
I would really love to see Ecovacs release an OTA update to the G1 that adds auto-discovery of edges when creating virtual maps, just as their robot vacuum does inside. The G1 performs really well when navigating uneven ground, thanks to large wheels with lots of torque, and the obstacle detection works well, particularly around humans and pets.
The G1 isn’t perfect, but what it does offer is really impressive and I think will appeal to many who prioritise their time over their finances. I love the ability to cut the grass on angles, particularly the 45-degree option. To mow your lawn like this manually would dramatically increase your mowing time, resulting in many more turns than the normal stripes. When you’re sending the robot to work, it doesn’t matter that it takes two or three times longer, because you’re not doing the work and can deploy your time to either relax or spend more time with family and friends.
If your budget and lawn allow it, you should consider it.