Random mowing

My brother-in-law Christophe has a mowing robot (called Mara!) that is completely autonomous. It starts from its plug and goes along straight lines until it hits an obstacle or the boundaries defined by an underground cable. Then it turns at random and starts again. The concept is quite interesting but I am surprised that it operates on a purely local random walk principle, without any learning about the topology of the terrain. This means that zones with more obstacles are visited less often. (To compensate for that, the mower starts moving in circles each time it hits denser regions of grass.) And that the mower spends a lot of time looking for its plug. An algorithmic determination of the terrain would be possible, obviously, using for instance a Metropolis-Hastings scheme.

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