Having a Roomba mow your lawn may not be too far off after an FCC decision yesterday. iRobot's robotic mower received the go-ahead from the communications agency—a big step toward US sales, reports Reuters. The company says its device communicates wirelessly with stakes in the user's yard to figure out where to go, unlike competitors' need for a boundary wire or underground fence. Robot mowers are already popular in Europe, but are making more headway in the US.
iRobot's FCC request had been challenged by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory because of potential interference with their telescopes. However, the agency found that the mower's height, signal strength, and areas of use will not pose a problem for the astronomers. It doesn't sound like they'll be on the market in the immediate future, however: "The FCC’s decision will allow iRobot to continue exploring the viability of wideband, alongside other technologies, as part of a long-term product exploration effort in the lawn mowing category," says an iRobot spokesman.