Tech Transformers

‘Roomba’ maker, iRobot, gets green light for robot lawn mower

Robots have already proved a help around the house. They vacuum, lift heavy items and can even whip up a cocktail. So it's little wonder that they might head outside.

From the makers of hoover robot 'Roomba', iRobot Corporation, has now been accepted by U.S. government regulators, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to start working on and selling a "robotic lawn mower" (RLM).

Roomba, by iRobot Corporation
Credit: iRobot Corporation

The iRobot RLM will depend on stakes fitted into the ground - complete with transmitters - to help it move around outdoors. The stakes' transmitters will communicate with one another and then the lawn mower, to help track a route around the garden.

The stakes are expected to be no higher than 24 inches above the ground, and both the RLM and stakes must not communicate with other devices, according to the FCC document.

Baxter robots
Robots: The new low-cost worker

The RLM did run into difficulties: the FCC doesn't typically allow the use of low power wideband technologies in outdoor environments, as there's a risk they might communicate with other devices.

Earlier this year, comments were filed by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) who said that the radio frequency the RLM operated on, 5925-6700 MHz, would interfere with radio astronomy operations.

However, the FCC authorized iRobot's request, adding it did not "frustrate" the FCC's Section 15.250(c) rule.

"We find that granting this waiver is in the public interest because it will enable iRobot to market its robotic lawn mower without posing a significant risk of harmful interference to authorized users of the radio spectrum," the FCC said in a document published Wednesday.

This is not the first time automated lawnmowers have tackled your gardens. Many brands such as Flymo, Robomow, and Bosch, have created their own automatic robotic lawnmowers. However, iRobot said to the FCC that other competitors only offered hands-free mowers, which need underground fences or other intricate setups, according to Reuters.

An iRobot spokesman said in an statement emailed to CNBC that they were very pleased with the FCC's decision, saying it will allow to explore further into the lawn mowing category.

"iRobot is constantly working to develop new practical robotic solutions that are designed to improve people's lives, both inside and outside of the home. 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."

iRobot has manufactured other products along with the Roomba hoover. These include a floor scrubber (Scooba); a mopper/duster (Braava) and gutter cleaner (Looj).

—By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her on Twitter @AlexGibbsy.