Bad news, homeowners: iRobot has delayed the launch of its Terra lawn mower due to COVID-19. The autonomous grass cutter—introduced in early 2019 and scheduled for release this year—was set to be the next big thing from the Roomba vacuum cleaner brand.
Like many businesses caught out by the novel coronavirus pandemic, iRobot has been forced to downsize: The company last month laid off approximately 5 percent of its workforce and furloughed more than a dozen people. Employees aren’t the only ones suffering, though.
“In conjunction with the workforce reduction, the company has suspended the go-to-market plans for its Terra robot lawnmower,” iRobot said in a first-quarter earnings report. “This decision primarily reflects the likelihood of significant delays to the company’s 2020 commercial plans for Terra caused by COVID-19, combined with the overall intensity of planned technology investment over the coming quarters.”
Similar to the indoor-only Roomba, Terra uses iRobot’s Imprint Smart Mapping technology to survey its environment, learning where to tread and what is off limits. Simply place wireless beacons around the patch of grass you want cut and drive the bot around the perimeter once.
Schedule a trim any time, day or night, via the iRobot Home app; you can even control the height it cuts your grass. Terra knows where it’s already pruned and what areas still need work. And when its battery gets low, the robot automatically returns to its base to charge; once juiced up, it picks up where it left off.
There is no word on when (or even if) the machine will hit shelves. The company will “reassess options for launching it when the time is right,” iRobot told CNET. On the bright side, you’ve probably got some extra time these days to mow the lawn yourself.