We just found out that the Institute of
Navigation will be holding their first annual Autonomous Lawn Mower
Competition on June 4th and 5th in Dayton, Ohio. With the
competition just hours away, it's probably too late to get an entry
together but you can still check the
action at this year's event if you're in the area. In addition to
looking for the faster
autonomous lawn mower, robots will be judged on their construction cost and
projected manufacturing costs of a production model.
I might be reading more into this article than was intended, however,
it would appear that companies are following in the footsteps of DARPA,
instead of wasting bazillions of dollars on R&D to end up with
something that may or may not do as intended; lets hold a competition!
And for a fraction of the cost we get the best of the best, as only the
winner actually becomes a product. I would like to see more of these
types of competitions, competitions with a purpose. They only thing I
didn't like about the lawnmower competition, if I read it correctly,
only college students are competing. If they keep this up, I'll have
to go sine up for woodshop or something at the local university so I
can be involved in theses types of activities.
Modifying a Roomba is a good idea, but that is a lot of modifying.
First the IR sensors won't work outdoors, so you have to change them
for something else. Then you need more powerful motors to run bigger
wheels for outdoor use. Then you have to change out the vaccum motor
for a grass cutting motor with blades. Of course you need different
bump sensors too. It would, sort of, be taking a Roomba and putting it
on top of a new lawn mower chassis, and wiring it up accordingly.
Dude just get a CO2 laser put on your goggles and have a servo sweep
it across the lawn. Dude like your grass is done. Would you like
rare, medium or well? Really, though, there's got to be a fast cheap
solution to cutting your grass besides roomba hack or irobot bouncing
around your yard for eternity until every last blade of grass gets
cut. Surely robots can be smarter than that and track their
progress. I guess the hard part is micro-gps or homegrown positioning
system to help the robot know where to go next. Adding GPS makes it
not cheap anymore but that's what's got to be done. Perhaps an AC low
voltage wire zigzagged for a path and buried about the yard for the
robot to follow would let it just be a simple line follower. How about
genetically engineered grass that cuts itself. Or nanites that stroll
through your yard constantly eating the tops off of grass.