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Makers of a robotic vacuum have won the right to create a similar device to mow lawns.
iRobot, the company that created the Roomba vacuum cleaner, was granted permission by the FCC to use a staking system that sends certain frequencies to help guide the lawn mower, according to a waiver filed Wednesday by the communications regulator.
The Bedford, Mass.-based company needed approval from the FCC because the the robotic lawn mower guidance system, which uses four to nine stakes placed in the yard, qualifies as a "fixed outdoor infrastructure" and is prohibited by the FCC.
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The robotic lawn mower would reduce deaths and injuries, reduce emissions and noise pollution and "improve the quality of life related to residential lawn mowing," according to iRobot in the waiver.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory opposed the waiver citing concerns about the robotic lawn mower's interference to radio operations on that frequency band, according to the filing.
"Measures must be taken to prevent iRobot's (robotic lawn mower) operations from causing harmful interference to radio astronomy service," the NRAO wrote.
That analysis, "has greatly overestimated the interference potential of transmitters that are located less than two feet above the ground," the FCC wrote.
However, the concerns were addressed and the waiver was granted on conditions including that the lawnmower is only for residential use and that the stakes will not be taller than 24 inches.
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