National Radio Astronomy Observatory – Robotic vacuums bring in a lot of respite to those who do not have the time and patience to clean their homes. iRobot has plans of introducing a vacuum cleaner that will help people clean their lawns. While this idea is well received by people from all walks of life, there is one group of people who are rather unhappy.

Astronomers are rather unhappy with Roomba. If things fall in place for will iRobot, the robot will use the same frequency that telescopes use. This is probably why astronomers are rather unhappy.


It all started this February when iRobot approached FCC. The former made an appeal to the latter requesting to be allowed to use a specific radio spectrum. This radio spectrum will be used to guide the robomower. In order to ensure that the robot does not go beyond the boundary of the respective property line, a lot of work has to be done.

iRobot filed a report stating that first a trench along the lawn’s perimeter is required to be dug. Next a wire needs to be installed in order to create the electronic fence. Such a fence is created only to ensure that the robot does not go beyond the boundary of the respective property.

iRobot has also proposed to take advantage of an alternative that requires less effort. The company has plans of making use of supportive equipment like stakes that will stand as warning signs. In order to ensure that the robots stay within the stipulated boundary of the property, the beacons will communicate with the lawnbott and help them successfully map the boundary area.

Depending on the size of the lawn, the required number of beacons can vary. For an example assuming that a lawn measures a quarter to a third of an acre, it can be presumed that the lawn may require about four to nine beacons.

For a company to take advantage of such a set up it becomes mandatory to obtain the necessary permission and clearance form FCC. On the other hand FCC is concerned of ad-hoc networks of transmitters, which may come in between the authorized and existing cellular and GPS systems. Astronomers in particular are unhappy because 6240-6740 MHz is the proposed frequency for the lawnbot. This coincidentally is the same frequency that the radio telescopes use.

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