Robotics firm iRobot, creator of the Roomba, is designing a lawn-mowing robot.
An 84-page patent filing unearthed today revealed that the robotics firm is currently developing the robot — currently nicknamed the "Mowba"— as an addition to its current product line-up of six different house-cleaning robots.
Information about the robot first came to light in 2006, but this is the first time any concrete evidence of the company's experimentation has been revealed.
The patent indicates that iRobot is working on gasoline- and electric-powered models, as well as several prototypes involving different shapes and mechanisms. The robot may use external sensors in order to recognise the perimeter in which to mow; the patent suggests that the Mowba will be able to avoid hard surfaces, water and freshly cut grass.
iRobot isn't the first to attempt such a feat — Israeli firm Friendly Robots and US company Kyodo America both manufacture similar robots. There have been some unique approaches to the question. Kyodo America's Lawnbott LB1200 is the first lawn-mowing robot that doesn't need a perimeter wire or external sensors in order to sense where it cuts.
The patent filing suggests that Mowba's distinguishing characteristics will be its edge trimmer and use of RFID tags.
We reviewed the original Roomba in 2005 to general delight. Since then, iRobot has made several updates to its Roomba range, and introduced several different robots with specialised abilities for different household duties.
It is unknown when iRobot will make an official announcement about the Mowba.