The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has granted a petition submitted by the iRobot Corporation for a waiver of its rules that would permit the deployment of the company’s wirelessly operated robotic lawn mower (RLM) system.
As we’ve previously reported (February 2015), iRobot’s RLM system consists of battery operated, self-propelling lawn mowers that utilize portable beacons placed in multiple locations on a lawn. The beacons reportedly transmit information to the RLM that enables it to map a designated mowing area and operate within those boundaries. The RLM system is designed to operate within the bands allocated for unlicensed wideband systems.
To accommodate the operation of the RLM system, iRobot filed a petition with the FCC in February 2015, requesting a waiver of its rules applicable to the unlicensed operation within the frequency range of 6240-6740 MHz. However, this is the same spectrum band utilized by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), who filed an objection to the petition based on concerns that RLMs systems could interfere with its efforts to identify and measure methanol out in space (an indicator of potential star forming activity).
In granting iRobot’s petition for a waiver, the Commission ruled that the RLM’s planned use of low-to-the-ground transmitters pointing horizontally posed little risk of harmful interference to other unlicensed wideband services. However, the FCC has restricted iRobot’s waiver to apply only to systems intended for residential use, and that use transmitting beacons not greater than 24 inches in height and that are incapable of communicating with other radio devices.