CHRISTIANSBURG — Honda’s new robotic lawn mower buzzed around a patch of grass in front of Power Zone on Thursday, the only store in Virginia where the device is sold as part of a limited U.S. launch.

“Is it cutting the grass?” a skeptical passerby asked, adding as he walked away that it’s just the latest sign of our increasing laziness.

Power Zone president Jim Higham admits the mower, called Miimo, is still foreign to Americans, but he said he thinks the idea of putting a robot in charge of lawn care eventually will make the cut.

Honda is planning a nationwide rollout next year, but for now Power Zone is alone in the state.

Honda dropped off the first units last week — the Christiansburg business hasn’t sold any yet.

Higham said he knows it’s not for everybody, but he didn’t want to miss the chance to get in early on a piece of technology he thinks will one day reshape the industry.

The launch is part of a growing trend as more and more lawn mower manufacturers now offer a robotic option. Most began selling the autonomous devices in Europe, but now they’re becoming increasingly available in U.S. markets as well.

Sweden-based Husqvarna now sells an American version of its Automower. Cub Cadet’s parent company merged with Israel’s Robomow in July, announcing plans for a new line of U.S. robots.

“You’ve got to be on top of technology. Robotics are a reality in our industry,” Higham said. “All the manufacturers are working on it.”

The Miimo does have its drawbacks, most notably a $2,500 price tag. But Higham noted during his sales pitch that it comes out to about $70 per month on an interest free, three-year loan.

Power Zone has a demo running inside the store and outside near Roanoke Street, so shoppers can see the Miimo in action.

It looks, sounds and operates almost nothing like a traditional lawn mower. Instead of big, powerful blades cutting inches of grass at a time, the Miimo has small razors under the hood that cut just a sliver off the top with every pass.

The autonomous mower is in a constant state of maintenance, trimming ever so slightly so it never needs a major cut.

“It’s like if you went and got a haircut every two days,” Higham said. “Your hair would always be the same length. The barber would have a hard time taking hair off — but they would. It grows a little bit every day.”

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