Husqvarna's "One Hell of an Update" Puts a Copy of Doom on Selected Automower NERA Robo-Mowers

Available for a limited time, this Chocolate Doom port will let you really mow down demons.

Putting Id Software's classic first-person shooter Doom on unexpected hardware is a true hacker's tradition, but gardening equipment specialist Husqvarna is going a step further — by releasing an official update to run the game on its robot mowers.

"The legendary 1993 video game Doom will be playable on Husqvarna Automower NERA robotic lawnmower models from April this year," the company says in its announcement. "When the first-person shooter game DOOM was released in 1993, it changed the gaming landscape forever. The intense atmosphere, 3D realism (for the time), the growls from demons approaching around the corner and the pulse-pounding experience made DOOM a cultural phenomenon. And now, for the first time in history, it’s possible to mow down demons on your own Husqvarna robotic lawn mower."

Who would have guessed the first port of Doom to a lawnmower would come as an official update? (📹: Husqvarna)

Described by the company as "one hell of an update," the release sees a port of the open-source Chocolate Doom brought to selected models of Husqvarna Automower — playable using the mowers' on-board controls and built-in screen. The mower will not, of course, be active during gameplay — meaning you'll be mowing down pixels rather than blades of grass. "Players navigate the game by using the robotic lawnmower’s control knob to turn left and right," the company explains. "Pressing the START button will make you run forward. To fire, players press the control knob."

The release follows a promotional demo at DreamHack Winter 2023, in which attendees were able to participate in time trials and deathmatches on NERA mowers, and will provide all users registering for the update with a copy of Knee Deep in the Dead — the first episode of Doom, released by Id Software as freely distributable shareware. It's a time-limited deal, though: the game will become active on 9 April this year and then disappear again on 9 September when a mandatory update removes it from the mowers.

Husqvarna isn't the only one porting Doom to unexpected devices, though it's one of the only major companies to bring the game to its own non-gaming products. In previous years hackers have brought Doom to everything from in-car entertainment systems and thermostats to GPS receivers, seven-segment displays, microcontrollers like the Raspberry Pi Pico, Teletext-capable TVs, and there's even one port that renders the in-game graphics entirely as audio.

The mower update is, sadly, region-restricted: at the time of writing Husqvarna had only confirmed availability in the UK, Europe, Australia, with no word on whether the update will be coming to the US or Canada. Those who want to try registering can do so on the Husqvarna website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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