Robotic Lawn Mowers: Are We at the Breakthrough Moment?

Have you ever wanted to mow the lawn while sitting on your front porch sipping iced tea?  If this is something that sounds too good to be true, this may be one of those times that it is true!  Robotic lawn mowers may have finally come into their own.

What exactly is a lawn-mowing robot?

A robotic lawn mower is an autonomous robot used to cut lawn grass. A typical robotic lawn mower requires the user to set up a border wire around the lawn that defines the area to be mowed.

Robot mowers tend to either be able to mow very fast and cover large areas of lawn or to be slower and more precise.  Most of the mower bots have been used in commercial applications such as golf courses.

Robotic lawn mowers

Mowing the lawn is one of those tasks that is destined to be a big robotics market when the technology finally advances to the point to make the robot mowers cost-effective and easy to set-up and use.  As far as dreaded jobs around the house, it ranks right up there with dishwashing and laundry.

A brief history of robotic lawn mowers

It might be hard to imagine, but the first or at least one of the first robotic mowers was introduced in 1969.

Possibly the first commercial robotic lawn mower was the MowBot, introduced and patented in 1969 and already showing many features of today’s most popular products.

Robotic Lawn MowersMost of the barriers to the wide use of robotic lawnmowers by the average homeowner has been the expense of the units and the fact that a boundary wire had to be set up to keep the mower from straying into the neighbors bed of prized roses.  By the end of 2005, robotic lawn mowers were the second largest category of domestic robots.  By 2012, the sales of robotic lawn mowers far outpaced that of the traditional mowers.

Several features have changed over the years in the mowing robots.  For one, many of the robots are self-docking.  They can park themselves when finished with the job.  Another feature of some robotic mowers is the addition of rain sensors.  What these added technologies mean is that the robots do nearly all the lawn mowing work.

Smartphone use has increased to the point that some robotic mowers now incorporate their use.  Many have integrated features within custom apps.  The apps can be used to adjust settings or schedule mowing times and frequency.  It is possible to manually control the mower with a digital joystick from the device.

The new iRobot mowers use a system of stakes that broadcast a radio signal to mark the boundaries for the bot.

Controversy

The recent approval of iRobot’s application for its new robot mower is not without controversy.  Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has stated that the devices will not interfere with a critical area of radio frequencies used by radio telescopes, many radio astronomers are not convinced of the arguments.  They remain opposed to the use of these radio transmitters in the boundary of the mowers.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recently given its approval to the company for the release of a robotic lawn mower (RLM), according to a report from Reuters. FCC ensured that the signal beacon from iRobot’s device does not interfere with radio signals.

Are robotic lawn mowers finally at the breakthrough moment?  Would you buy one?  Tell me what you think.

Source: Robotic lawn mower from iRobot receives approval from FCC

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