Garden-weeding robotics company hires iRobot cofounder as CEO

If Tertill, the garden-weeding robot made by a Billerica startup of the same name, didn’t already remind you of the Roomba vacuum, the company’s latest hire should leave no doubt about its designs on the home automation industry.

Tertill said Tuesday that it had hired as its chairman and chief executive Helen Greiner, who was co-founder and top executive at Roomba maker iRobot of Bedford. She later founded the drone maker CyPhy Works, before leaving that role to work for the US Army as an expert on robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence.

At Tertill, Greiner is reuniting with Joe Jones, who was instrumental in creating the Roomba and later created the Tertill. Grenier said she had been independently looking for opportunities for outdoor home robots and a conversation with Tertill executives wound up convincing her to join the company.

“It’s a really under-served space from a technology point of view, and that’s a great place to be as a startup,” she said. Greiner succeeds Linda Ystueta, who becomes Tertill’s chief operating officer.

The solar-powered, weatherproof Tertill uses a small trimmer to cut weeds as they emerge while tilling the soil with its wheels to prevent unwanted plants from sprouting and taking root. It sells for about $350.

Many companies have their eyes on doing for the outdoors what Roomba and its competitors have done to the interiors of their customers’ homes. IRobot is working on a robotic lawnmower, and several other companies have launched them — including Husqvarna, which Greiner said has made an early-stage investment of $1 million in Tertill.

Greiner, who will also take over as chairwoman of the company’s board, said she’s interested in other ideas for outdoor robotic applications, such as collecting leaves or clearing snow. But for now, she said she’d be focused on building a robust business to support a product that has shown some clear consumer interest.

Andy Rosen can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.

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Oklahoma House hires former speaker T.W. Shannon to aid in redistricting

The Oklahoma House has hired a former Republican speaker to help with the upcoming redistricting process.

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, announced Monday the hiring of former Speaker T.W. Shannon to serve as the chamber’s public liaison on redistricting.

Shannon will help solicit public input on how House legislative districts should look for the next decade and build bridges between the public and legislators throughout the redistricting process that occurs following the U.S. Census. He also will serve as a spokesman to the public and media outlets, according to a news release.

“T.W. Shannon is an incredibly effective communicator whose diversity and deep understanding of all of Oklahoma will strongly benefit the House’s public-focused redistricting process,” McCall said.

Shannon will be paid $6,250 per month on a month-to-month contract, said a spokesman for McCall. He will report to the House Redistricting Committee and eight regional subcommittees on which all 101 House members will serve.

Senate leadership also hired outside help to aid in the redistricting process. Keith Beall, who was chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, will serve as Senate redistricting director. He will be paid $105,000, according to the Tulsa World.

The House has established a redistricting process that will allow all Oklahomans to be heard while producing proper leadership for the state, Shannon said.

“House seats belong to the public, and it is an honor to help the public bring their vision for their representation to the table in the critical constitutional process of redistricting,” he said.

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