There's certain tools and appliances that every household cannot be without.  Students at Penn State Behrend are working to make sure a robotic lawn mower is soon added to that list.

Three engineering students have been developing a robotic lawn mower over the last few months.  There are robot lawn mowers currently on the market, however the prices range from $4,700 to about $7,000. The Behrend students hope their model will not only be more efficient, but less expensive. Nick Drake is one of the three who worked on the project. He said the team studied everything now available on the market

"We were basing a lot of our stuff off some of these.  We did probably about a month of market research just to see what everybody else could do and we ended up mixing together a bunch of them,” he said.

The Behrend robot started out as a basic gasoline-powered push mower.  The students added new wires, motors, and wheels. The robot is maneuvered by an X-Box controller.  It also has a camera, sensors, and a computer so it can also operate autonomously.  Team Member Zachary Ley says the mower recognizes the green color of grass.

"It will look for green objects or non-green objects and if there's something in the way it will take evasive action to turn and move away from that,” he said.

Building the mower was an assignment given to the students for a year-end research project. It was not an easy task. There were many trips of going back to the drawing board.

"There were a lot of long nights where we're like 'I don't know what's wrong.  We don't know what's wrong.' There were a lot of weeks like that honestly”, said Team Member Nick Self.

The work is far from done.  There are more improvements to be made.  The three students who began the project have graduated.  Another trio of students will take over the work next semester.