iRobot Unveils Terra, Its First Robotic Lawn Mower

If you have heard of Roomba then you likely know who iRobot is – or vice-versa. They are the company who introduced their flagship product that glides across your carpet and vacuums it, and all you have to do is basically stay out of its way. This technological convenience has been around for 17 years, but there have been rumors from men claiming the device is actually sexist. The reason was there was no comparable gadget that would let them watch out the window during commercials and see the yard being mowed by a robotic lawn mower.

Now there have been attempts to make this non-gender specific piece of technology available to the general public, but thus far none of them have been truly robotic. You have to set a perimeter of wires that guide the unit from point A to point B, and though it sounds easy and practical, the customers have not exactly been thrilled at the real world results.

So there are several critical improvements that move Terra to the head of the class. The wires are not required and you can adjust the depth of the cut remotely, allowing you to watch TV from the security and comfort of your home. The company is noted for developing military grade technology for various branches of the military, so it is safe to assume the same weather resistance and endurance will be built into these units.

If you are wondering just how Terra is able to navigate your lawn, there are people who are dogs owners that can directly relate to the method behind the madness. For people in rural areas in particular, a dog can be trained to not leave the property or a specific area without the use of electronic fences or the like. When the dog is still a puppy, take the dog out for a walk every morning and follow the same route/perimeter day after day. It will not take long for the dog to learn these are the established boundaries and no further shall they go. They might bark at passing cars but not chase them.

Well, fortunately Terra is smarter than a dog in this respect. All you do is to walk Terra around the perimeter of your yard just once, and it will design the course to follow. Plus, you don’t have to worry about it chasing cats or dogs or radio controlled devices.

Everyone wants to know about the projected cost since the Roomba goes for about $1,100 depending on the model. Current guestimates are between $1,500 and $3,500 per unit, so if you decide to line up for one you might have to keep a close eye on it. Maybe you can split the cost with a neighbor (or two) and you can take turns watching each other’s Terra. Considering the advantages, that doesn’t seem so Terra-ble. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

One odd thing about the progress and testing of Terra is part of it will take place in Germany (and part in the United States). I didn’t think Germany had all that much open space. Also, it seems the market will be bigger in the United States, and the country has a variety of terrains and vegetation that Terra would have to mow down. We can just presume there is good reason for their decision.

Finally, there are the alternative potential uses for Terra, though they are unlikely to match what Roomba has achieved over its 17 year history.

On a privacy note (there always seems to be one) Roomba is reportedly mapping your home’s spaces (where you use it) and making that data available to the company. It created a bit of a stir, but extending this capability out to your lawn it could be used to legally establish property lines, especially advantageous for people who like their neighbors and decided to forego the fence. But once Terra has its say (we’re presuming the owner(s) will guide it along the legal property lines) the data will avoid any potential future conflicts, especially if there are new owners to the house.

There are no availability dates set by the company, though the testing is said to already have begun. Given the different types of grasses, terrain, and potential damaging obstacles such as rocks, it is likely there will be multiple models with multiple features that take all of this into consideration. That leaves you the choice of smoothing out your lawn so it is as flat as a countertop or just leaving things be and prepare to pay out more when Terra does become available.


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