This Is Why You Can’t Buy A Robotic Lawn Mower

John Byrne
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iRobot, maker of the automated electric vacuum cleaner Roomba, is moving forward with plans to put an automated lawn mower on the market.

iRobot needs a waiver from the FCC, and astronomers are standing in the way.

There’s one problem: the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. This from Digital Trends:

According to the FCC filing, iRobot’s proposed mower uses a series of small wireless beacons that operate in the 6240-6740 megahertz range. Users drive them into the ground at the beginning of mowing season, so the device knows the yard boundaries, according to IEEE Spectrum. The NRAO uses the same megahertz range to view the spectral signature of methanol in space, which creates a problem.

iRobot needed to file for a waiver with the commission for its beacons, which require more than the FCC allows for a “fixed outdoor infrastructure.” Since then, the NRAO has voiced its concerns. The foundation has suggested that iRobot use a geolocation feature to keep the beacons from affecting its work, according to IEEE.

“iRobot is constantly exploring and developing new practical robotic solutions that are designed to improve our everyday lives – both inside and outside of the home,” according to a company spokesperson told Digital Trends. “The FCC waiver is related to one of iRobot’s ongoing technology development initiatives and addresses the lawn mowing category. When it comes to specifics, though, it’s iRobot’s policy not to comment on unannounced products or technologies.”

For now, notes Digital Trends, robotic mowers require wires to run around the yards, which many see as a nuisance.

We suspect iRobot’s robotic mower’s success is just a matter of time. Because who really loves to cut the grass?