Back in 2006, there was mention of a robotic mower to be introduced to the market. The creators of the Roomba machine wanted to enter the lawn mower arena, but were being held back by the FCC.
Fast forward 10 years (2016) and now the company has received approval from the FCC to move forward with the device. Interestingly enough — the hold-up? The National Radio Astronomy Observatory, or more commonly known as NRAO. The tension was caused between thinking the robotic mower’s signal could cause issues with telescopes roaming in space.
FCC Robotic Mower Guidelines
To add additional context, the FCC is acts strictly against roaming into airspace that uses certain frequencies. In this case, one of the frequencies intended for use is taken up by the NRAO with no intentions of having other devices on it’s “network”, for lack of a better term.
It’s important to note that these issues commonly happen. For example: when a company wants to manufacture a wireless microphone, sometimes they request to use a band to prevent “congestion” and reduce interference (since there’s nothing else there).
Even though the initial approval was granted, there are still some regulation kinks that need to be worked out. In August 2015, Reuters gave details of the robotic mower’s FCC statements and clarification of what is required before the mower can be released to the public. It consists of waivers and proof that the mower will not interfere with any frequency (or band) and will not “negatively impact radio astronomy”.
It’s an intriguing thought to see how this type of technology get’s held up in the communication arena. We’ve been using all kinds of wireless devices and the one that gets noticed is a robotic lawn mower.
Another thing that might set this mower apart from others on the market is the fact that it uses stakes that could potentially stick out around 24″ above the ground. I know I wouldn’t want that sticking out of my yard, especially when competing robot mowers use perimeter wires and other means to keep it in the grass.
Hey — at least they’re [iRobot] not upsetting space observations.