Feb. 5 2019 10:29 AM

The makers of Roomba are entering a field full of already-established players.

iRobot, the Bedford, Massachusetts-based maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum is rolling into the robotic lawn mower market with its brand-new Terra robotic mower, equipped with the latest mapping and navigation technologies, as reported by Robotics Business Review. But you’ll have to go to Germany to get one now. A beta program is slated for the U.S. sometime this year, with specific availability and pricing to be announced later this spring.

According to the company, Terra learns about its environment through the company’s Imprint Smart Mapping technology which “mows like people do, intelligently navigating a yard cutting efficiently in straight, back-and-forth lines.” The mower remembers where it is in a yard, along with the areas that it still needs to mow. If the battery runs low, the mower can return to its base to recharge, and then go back and finish the job.

Terra has apparently been in the works for years. in 2014 the company filed for a trademark application and was awarded it in 2016.

iRobot is entering a market that already includes competitors such as Husqvarna, MTD Products (the makers of Robomow), Robert Bosch, Global Garden Product and Zucchetti Centro Sistemi among others. It’s estimated that the global lawn mower market will reach the $3 billion value mark in 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 15 percent between 2017 and 2023.

iRobot says Terra differentiates from the other robotic mowers on the market in that it eliminates the need to install costly and labor-intensive boundary wires. Instead, it uses a newly developed wireless communication system that includes stand-alone beacons. Users can place these beacons around their yard or property, drive the robot once around the perimeter, and then schedule the unit to mow. “Users have total control over where the robot goes and where it doesn’t go, so it will stay on the lawn and out of the flowers,” a spokesperson for iRobot said.

Through the iRobot HOME app, users can adjust mowing heights and set up a schedule. The company says the unit has been made rugged enough to run in inclement weather as well as navigate different kinds of outdoor terrain. Whether Terra is tough enough for professional landscape maintenance contractors to use remains to be seen.

“iRobot is building an ecosystem of robots and technologies that help people do more both inside and outside of the home,” said iRobot’s CEO and Chairman Colin Angle. “The robot mower segment is well established in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa and has tremendous room for growth in other markets including North America. With its ease of use and premium mowing features, Terra is poised to give consumers a whole new way to think about how they take care of their lawn.”

Potential buyers can track the progress and availability of Terra at the iRobot website: https://www.irobot.com/.