Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn
What's the Latest Development?
With the recent UK release of its Miimo, Honda is only the latest company to put what is basically the lawnmower equivalent of a Roomba on the market. Just like that popular vacuum cleaner, it uses sensors to go around obstacles, but unlike other lawnmowers of its type, the Miimo runs on a rechargeable battery instead of electricity or gas. Despite the obvious appeal of having a robot do the mowing -- and the fact that such machines been around, in different forms, since the mid-1990s -- sales, though growing, have been slow.
What's the Big Idea?
The most obvious issue is price: The Miimo starts at £1,990 (just over US$3,200), which is far and above what most regular lawnmowers cost. Chris Melhuish of the British Robotics Laboratory says, "If it were something I could get for £100, put down half a dozen markers and then off it would go, that would be fine." However, he also says that "service robotics" will become a part of normal life within the next decade, most likely starting with cleaning robots in public places.
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