Makers of ‘Roomba’ Unveil Plans to Release a Robot Lawn Mower in 2020
While the Roomba was released in 2002, iRobot has secretly been working on a new invention for well over a decade. In fact, they’ve been working on it for so long that you can see failed prototypes in the 2008 movie “21.” In the film, iRobot CEO, Colin Angle, played a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His character was announcing the winner of a robotics competition, and the failed prototypes were used for entries in the competition.
The secret invention that iRobot is finally planning to release in the U.S. in 2020 is a robotic lawn mower called Terra. Get ready to see dogs and cats riding around on top of the family lawn mower at all hours of the day.
iRobot never imagined that the mower would be so much more complicated to get right than the vacuum, but they ran into hurdle after hurdle. Angle says, “Honestly, this robot drove me insane.”
Angle and his team had to figure out how to get the robot to navigate a sprawling American lawn while avoiding things like flower beds and picnic tables. They also had to figure out how to get the robot to mimic the typical back and forth lines that Americans expect to see on well-manicured lawns.
The team tried using Satellite technology, but that didn’t work since things like tree branches messed with the GPS signal. The camera lenses iRobot uses on their latest vacuums didn’t work on a mower either since the lenses often got blocked with dirt and debris.
After giving up on the robot mower twice, they finally felt enough financial pressure that they had to keep trying. The solution that worked ended up being ultra-wide bandwidth radio technology, but then astronomers complained that the radio signals would be problematic with their interstellar chemistry research.
The Federal Communications Commission ended up siding with iRobot, and now the company is getting ready to launch their first robotic mower in Germany where there is already a current market for robotic lawn mowers.
Once the mower is released in the U.S. in 2020, you’ll be able to set up the Terra to mow your yard daily or several times a week. There will even be an app where you can control the mower from your phone. Once the mower is done, or if it needs to recharge, it will return to its station. If it sounds too good to be true, the only downside might be the price.
While we don’t know the final price for Terra, similar robotic lawn mowers can cost over $1,000. If you despise pushing your lawn mower around your yard, perhaps the price is worth it. If you pay someone else to mow your yard, it will probably pay for itself in time.
Do you plan to buy the Terra in 2020?