Sounds like a cheap Hollywood movie title, but the people with cloute (a group of realy pissed-off astronomers) say a new concept will interfere with thier radio telescopes. The concept I speak of is the company Roomba (who we know for the makers of iRobot Vacumes) has come up with what I think is a very good idea. Like thier smaller cousins (the iRobot – Fig-A) they are using this technology to drive lawnmowers in a confined area. To the Lazy people out there (yes, I’m one of them) this sounds like a great idea if the form of: why hasn’t someone already come up with this idea?!?
Robot-Like Lawn Mowers are not a new concept (See Fig-B), they have been around in many shapes and forms already. The predecessors relied on a guide-wire technology to move around the lawn (See Fig-C). However like thier smaller counterparts the new mower will only be in a confined area (via wireless fences). The robot will figure out all the objects in the confined area and keep track where it has been already in order to maximize the cutting time. This is where it gets confusing, the astronomers claim those wi-fi fences interfere with thier radio telescopes using the same frequency and they want it stopped. They haven’t said change the frequency but not to use it at all.
The company Roomba is willing to put a disclaimer in every manual specifically satiating not to use them near or with any radio telescopes in the area, the astronomers claim that is not enough. Now I can see if the the iLawnmower system was used right beside a radio telescope that it would interfere, but isn’t the use of the telescopes usually behind enough concrete and grounded metal to prevent such problems as well as being on a second to more stories high printing up???
One thing I know is radio signals and concepts of radio waveforms, and when you surround an object behind something like a faraday cage (a faraday cage is a grounded metal cage) and point upwards to the sky you block out all the radio interference as well as harmonics of said singnal. If the radio telescopes are built correctly and block out the frequencys (on the ground) then what is the problem? The iLawnmower virtual fence system is a broadcasting radio at a very specific frequency but with a very low wattage to handle local fields only, not to distort signals from space (unless the virtual walls are right against the radio telescopes).
It looks more and more like some group of people want to keep politics in thier court based on something not very practical at all. The last time I visited a radio telescope in person I did notice that any radio emmissions anywhere near the telescope (on the ground) were abolished to nothing allowing the radio emmissions from space not to be interfered with, so what is the problem with a radio fence (very low powered to begin with) most likely 100+ feet away to cause any problems?