iRobot, the company that lazy (sorry, efficient) Americans love, is moving outdoors. Or rather its robots are. The maker of the popular Roomba — the robot vacuum cleaner that works without human assistance — has won permission from the FCC to build its robot lawn mower. That sound you just heard was the sound a million jobs being destroyed by a single machine. But it’ll take time.
Other companies already build autonomous robotic lawnmowers (see video) but the iRobot innovation is to circumscribe the mowing area through radio signals rather than physical barriers. That’s what the FCC needed to okay, making sure the signals wouldn’t interfere with other devices on the same frequency. iRobot created a solution that satisfied the FCC that interference wouldn’t be a problem, keeping its signals low to the ground. iRobot, which grew out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has sold more than 10 million robots.