Roomba is making a lawnmower. Astronomers HATE this


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This noise pollution is so unnecessary. I have a Robomow which uses wire guidance, and after nearly 6 years the wire maintenance has been zero.


Just use a different frequency and problem solved. Put MIMO antennas on the bot and beamform directional patterns right to the beacons; that should work even in crowded ISM bands. Use suitable encoding for the beacons, e.g. the time-interleaved one that GPS uses, and they all can use one single shared narrowband frequency.

Or hover a drone above the area and use machine vision. Or use machine vision from the ground, using houses and trees (and possibly infrared beacons) as references.


Wasn’t this the sort of thing that killed the “genius” before the start of Cybernia?

How does it do at avoiding snakes, salamanders, goslings, sphinx moths, children’s toys, fallen badminton nets, and ruins of stone walls peeking up out of the ground a few inches here and there?

I have all that stuff in my yard, and I wouldn’t want to accidentally mow over more of them than I already do!


The nrao proposes 3 options

  1. notch filters designed to prevent emmissions at the protected band around 6.6 GHz.
  2. Gps sensors that would disallow operation within 89 km of a nrao site
  3. reassignment of the proposed frequency.

a. NRAO should really complain to the ITU (assuming they haven’t already).
b. Why in the world is roomba using 6 GHz for perimeter marking anyway?

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I… can probably afford this and still would never buy something like this. Why not just hire someone?


Rugged individualism?


Because if you take a screwdriver and hack/mod this, you won’t get in trouble. But if you whip out a scalpel and try to hack/mod the hired someone, and somebody finds out, woe is you.


I can’t see that being cheaper.

According to their website I need the RS630 which is isn’t listed on Amazon (but the 622 is for about the same price in dollars to pounds) but is about $2500. A new decent riding mower is $1700-$2500 alone, or I suppose you could push mow an acre, but that’s like 4+ hours at a time. A quick look shows average pricing about $50 per acre to mow, which would be around 30 times a year, or $1500 per year. In two years it has paid for itself.

The idea looks fine, but how smart is this thing? It is using a boundary wire, but will it mow over the same area 10 times just to get in all the corners?


Holy crap, I just realized one of my friends from high school is one of the four inventors listed on iRobot’s patent. I’ll be sure to bring this up at the reunion this summer if those things end up hunting down humanity.


Frankenhooker began with a mind control lawnmower run amuck, but it wasn’t explained whether it was merely a design flaw or the user’ mind’s deep seeded animosity towards just about anything escaping through the unconscious via the mind control remote device.

This roomba gadget probably won’t result in our streets filling with crack addicted piecemeal hookers, but you can’t be too careful I say. Burn them all.


I kind of hate admitting that I even watched this, but am I the only one who remembers the 1962 Jerry Lewis vehicle It’s Only Money? There was a scene in which someone attempts to murder Lewis’ character by sending a bunch of high-tech robotic lawnmowers after him.

It was played for laughs, but as a kid the idea of having a soulless, unstoppable killing machine after me was just terrifying. (This was the closest thing I’d seen to The Terminator at that time.)


Can we please start a discussion about the increasing number of “Click-Bait” type of headlines we are starting to see on Boing Boing? This one isn’t as bad as some I’ve seen but it is an example.

I’ve always considered Boing Boing to be a respectable and serious minded outlet with engaging stories for intellectuals not a sketchy click-hole resorting to in vogue marketing tricks to up click through rate. I would love if we as a community could discourage this type of pseudo-journalistic headlines.


[quote=“phopkin, post:15, topic:55599”]
Can we please start a discussion about the increasing number of “Click-Bait” type of headlines we are starting to see on Boing Boing?[/quote]

Boing Boing Lures Readers with One Weird Trick. @phopkin HATES this.


Yes, it will mow over the same area multiple times. You basically leave it running eight or so hours a day (it operates silently – it’s so silent you can hear it clipping the grass if you listen closely). It works perfectly. The lawn comes out looking great (better than ever before) and it is basically consistently short all the time. Essentially this is a solved problem and for some reason people don’t know about it … it’s mind-blowing to me that so few people know there are useful and perfectly working lawn mowing robots and have been for years. That should really be better known!

The only challenging part is setting up the wire correctly. That takes a bit of fiddling, especially with fancy geometries in gardens. (If the garden is basically a rectangle there is no issue, but any and all choke points can be a problem.) But once you have done that and observed the behavior for a summer or so you are set.

Obviously, this is not a good solution for gardens with lots of small things littered about and one, e.g., children play in. But not everyone has a garden like that.

Like all successful robots or robot-like machines (e.g. dishwashers, washing machines) this is all about the ability to create and predictable space and then brute forcing it. (People might rub dishes in specific places they see are dirty to get the dirt off, dish washers just overwhelm dishes with water spray.)

(My parents have one. They aren’t the youngest anymore and they prefer to do the gardening they actually enjoy, not boring tasks like mowing the lawn.)


I believe this particular headline was fashioned in full self-aware wink/nudge jest mode.

Yeah, well once we’re all enslaved by the robots and trapped in artificial V-R environments, surely those people who invented the omnidirectional treadmills that help create those environments will share in the blame. I can’t help but notice that the person in this patent illustration bears a striking resemblance to you, @Brainspore!

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The sound of mower blades chopping the air is nowhere near as loud as a gas mower, but it ain’t silent by any means. You can hear it from a hundred feet away.

(I mow an acre with a 1973 I-5 electric garden tractor.)