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Robotic lawn mower injures pet in western Finland

Maria Frände's cat Sputnik received several lacerations on his legs after getting caught in a robomower's orbit.

Sputnik has to stay inside until the risk of infection has passed. Image: Markus Bergfors/Yle

A cat on the west coast of Finland has fallen victim to a hit-and-run incident with a robotic lawn mower.

Uusikaarlepyy resident Maria Frände returned home on Tuesday evening to find her injured cat in the garden.

"Sputnik was lying there, still and bloody. At first I thought a car had hit him because we live close to a road," she said.

A trip to the vet led to the discovery that Sputnik had several gashes that looked like razor blade cuts on three of his legs.

"We quickly reached the conclusion that the only possible explanation was that Sputnik had been injured by our robotic lawn mower," Frände said. "Maybe he was sleeping and didn't hear the mower, as they are very quiet. Apparently Sputnik didn't notice the machine's approach until his legs were already under it."

The lacerations were sizable, and one of Sputnik's legs required seven stitches.

"It was a good thing the blades didn't sever any arteries or muscles. He will probably make a swift recovery," Frände told the public broadcaster Yle.

Test: Not safe for children or pets

Frände says her family had only started using the robotic lawn mower a few weeks earlier.

"The manufacturer included very clear safety guidelines, and there was an assurance that children and animals would be safe because the machine will change course if it encounters an obstacle," she said.

In April, Yle reported on a safety report (siirryt toiseen palveluun) conducted by a leading consumer association in Germany, which simulated accident situations with robotic lawn mowers using mock feet and fingers.

While all eight lawn mowers tested were able to recognise standing children as an obstacle, two of the robotic lawn mowers did not stop for crawling children and rode right over the dummy feet. The test panel surmised that none of the mowers should be used without supervision.

Veterinarians advise pet owners to either teach their furry companions to stay away from the devices or keep their pets inside while the robomowers are in operation.