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We’ve all been waiting for robotic lawn mowing leader, iRobot, to develop a new robot lawn mower and as new information has recently come to light, there might be one in the works. It’s been speculated that iRobot are working on a robotic lawn mower that is as easy to use as a Roomba, the information has surfaced after a recent FCC filing by iRobot, that the new robotic lawn mower (referred to as “LMR” is in FCC filing) uses a wireless beacon system rather than the traditional edge wire.
As it currently stands, majority of robotic lawn mowers on the market use an edge wire system that requires you to lay the wire to create an edge for the robotic lawn mowers to use as its perimeter. These wires can often be damaged by the lawn mowers themselves, or pets and children can often tamper with them, resulting in the robotic lawnmower going completely off ath and switching itself off, resulting in an uncut lawn and permanently damaged wires. It seems to be the only flaw in these excellent timesaving creations.
iRobot’s approach would be to discard the edge wire and develop wireless beacons, that you can place on the perimeter of your lawn. iRobot’s robotic lawn mower, after an initial user configuration, would use the beacons to calculate it’s position using inbuilt transmitters.
Sounds great doesn’t it? No more pesky wires or robotic mowers going off-course. There’s a slight problem… Astronomers are trying their best to stop the whole thing.
The reason that iRobot has to apply for a FCC waiver for this system is that its beacons operate in the 6240-6740 MHz range, anything over this the FCC prohibits.
At the very end of the iRobot’s FCC filing is this, very clear, note:
iRobot recognizes that the Radio Astronomy Service (“RAS”) uses 6650-6675.2 MHz for spectral line observations. There is little risk of interference…
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) exclusively use the service range 6650-6675.2 MHz to spot, as the NRAO strangely puts it, “interstellar wood alcohol.” As you might have guessed, the NRAO weren’t very happy when they learnt that iRobot wanted to set up its beacons to broadcast on the their protected frequency. The NRAO are, reportedly, worried that people’s lawn mower beacons would start to mess with their radio astronomy data. The NRAO and iRobot are still in discussions regarding the FCC filing and will hopefully come to a quick, and favourable, resolution soon.
We’re not really sure who’s in the right, and who’s in the wrong here but we hope that both parties can sort things out quickly. I really don’t think iRobot want to be responsible for losing important astronomy data and I’m certain that even astronauts would want a beacon run robotic lawn mower.
If, and when, the FCC filing has been approved and iRobot commence manufacturing of the beacon system robotic lawn mower – this will be a very big game changer in the robotic lawn mower space. We all love our wireless vacuums, they get the job done with incredible ease and saying the same about our lawn mowers would be an incredible feat.
It begs the next question – if iRobot have their hands on this technology, who’s to say other competitors don’t? Technology in the home robotics space moves incredibly quickly and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some new products in the making. If companies like Worx aren’t already endeavouring to produce a wireless robotic lawn mower, we hope they get their butts into action soon.
Of course we’ll keep you up to date with iRobot’s movements on our blog, I simply can’t wait to see the new wireless addition to iRobot’s family and I’m already looking forward to writing our review on the “LMR”!
Do you think iRobot’s FCC filing will be approved? And do you think that iRobot, being the leaders in the industry, is the only company with this technology? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!