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Another “smart” home gadget: Robot lawn mowers

Will Smith in “I, Robot,” iRobot’s new product Terra (Credit Getty, Terra)

Technology is gunning to replace another staple of the home ownership process, but it isn’t brokers this time who should be worried. Instead it’s the landscapers.

The company behind the popular Roomba robotic vacuum, iRobot, unveiled an autonomous lawn mower. Called “Terra,” the electric robot lawn mower can be programed to cut the grass daily or as needed, according to the Associated Press.

The new product is the result of a decade of research and development by iRobot, which encountered numerous hurdles and abandoned prototypes along the way. The layout of lawns was too much for satellite GPS, and cameras on the robot were obstructed by dirt and leaves.

A solution was found using “ultra-wide” radio bandwidths, but first the company had to prove the technology would not interfere with interstellar observations. Massachusetts-based iRobot was granted permission to use the technology by the Federal Communications Commission, according to the AP.

The Terra will debut in Germany and could go on sale in America in 2020.

Robot lawn mowers are just the latest innovation in the smart-home market — and the residential development industry is taking notice. In August, Brookfield Ventures invested $70 million in smart lock maker Latch, which it plans to install in its new multifamily properties.

Smart home products have made their way into Chicago’s increasingly competitive multifamily market. Elevate, a 191-unit building in Lincoln Park, is wrapped in “smart windows” that automatically dim based on sunlight conditions. [AP] — Joe Ward

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