iRobot is best known for making vacuum cleaner robots: the infamous Roomba lineup. But the company also makes mopping robots (Braava lineup), pool cleaning robots (Mirra lineup), a bot to help clean gutters, and even programmable robots (Create lineup). So, what’s next for your home? A lawn mower robot.
Queue the “get off my lawn” jokes.
iRobot today introduced the Terra robot lawn mower, which features “state-of-the-art mapping and navigation technologies, high-performance, high-quality mowing, and easy installation.” It is arguably easier for a robot to mow a lawn than clean a house, but the company is still starting off cautiously — the iRobot Terra robot mower will be available for sale in Germany and as part of a beta program in the U.S. sometime later this year. iRobot said it would share more specific availability and pricing at a later date.
“iRobot is building an ecosystem of robots and technologies that help people do more both inside and outside of the home,” iRobot CEO Colin Angle said in a statement. “The robot mower segment is well established in EMEA and has tremendous room for growth in other markets, including North America. With its ease of use and premium mowing features, Terra is poised to give consumers a whole new way to think about how they take care of their lawn.”
How Terra works
iRobot promises that Terra “mows like people do,” meaning cutting in straight, back-and-forth lines. It really does look like a Roomba for your lawn:
And that’s not an oversimplification. Just like the latest Roombas, Terra uses iRobot’s Imprint Smart Mapping technology to remember where it is in the yard and where it still needs to cut your grass. And if its battery runs low, it returns to base to recharge before completing its mowing assignment. Again, just like a Roomba.
Also like a Roomba, Terra can be used with the iRobot Home App (paired over Wi-Fi) to adjust the height of the grass and control when exactly the lawn is cut, day or night. Unlike a Roomba, the Terra is designed with “rugged features” to help it operate in inclement weather and navigate tough outdoor terrain.
While existing robotic lawnmowers rely on boundary wires, Terra uses a wireless communications system. To set the robot up, you’ll have to place wireless beacons around your yard, drive it once around the perimeter, and then schedule its first mow.
Back in August 2015, iRobot received FCC approval for a robotic lawn mower, despite concerns that transmissions between its machines and the antennas would interfere with other devices using the same frequencies. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory specifically argued that the lawn mower beacons would interfere with its telescopes. The FCC sided with iRobot, but placed constraints on beacon height, signal strength, and use in residential areas.