Posts tagged with "iRobot"

IRobot to expand from Roomba vacuums and lawnmowers to household helpers with arms

January 13, 2020

Need a little more help around the house? Bedford, Massachusetts-based IRobot, maker of the disc-shaped Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, hopes to have a product on the market within five years that will have arms to load dishes, pick up clothes, or bring food from kitchen to table, The Boston Globe reports.

Indeed, prototypes of the arms have been produced in the told the Globe in an interview on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. IRobot’s main new hardware launch for 2020 will be its Terra lawnmower.

The company, which has been in business for 20 years, previously developed robotic-arm technology for its military business unit. The company sold that business in 2016 but kept the arm assets.

At the time, the company didn’t know how to adapt the technology for mainstream use, Angle said, but new advancements in computer vision and the ability for robots to map out a person’s home make such devices possible.

Other technology companies also are working on home robots, including Amazon and Samsung Electronics, according to the Globe—but so far they are focusing on devices with video conferencing and voice assistants, rather than the ability to actually perform physical tasks.

The trade war between the U.S. and China could put a damper on iRobot’s ambitions in the near term. Angle said it’s had a “negative impact” on business. “We are having to scale back R&D and profitability” targets, he said. The company started shipping its lower-cost Roomba vacuum cleaner robots out of Malaysia, instead of China, in November, he said.

Research contact: @iRobot

A ‘garden variety’ Roomba

February 1, 2019

It’s time to “Terra-fy” yourself in the best way ever: Having already changed the way people clean their homes, with the iconic Roomba robot vacuum and the Braava family of robot mops, Bedford, Massachusetts-based iRobot, announced on January 29 that it is reinventing lawn care with the Terra robot mower.

According to the company, Terra offers state-of-the-art Imprint Smart Mapping and navigation technologies;  high-performance, high-quality mowing; and easy installation.

It mows like people do—intelligently navigating a yard cutting efficiently in straight, back-and-forth lines. Terra remembers where it is in the yard and what ground it still needs to cover. If the robot’s battery runs low, it will return to its base to recharge and then resume mowing until the yard is complete.

Terra will offer consumers a welcome alternative to existing robotic lawn mowers by eliminating the need for costly and labor-intensive boundary wires. Combining Imprint Smart Mapping technology with a newly developed wireless communications system—including standalone beacons that are placed around the yard—the Terra can be driven once around the yard to mark its territory and then scheduled for use.

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.

Because Terra is connected, users can use the iRobot HOME App to customize their robot—from adjusting the height of the grass to controlling precisely when the lawn is cut, day or night. The robot is designed with rugged features to help it operate in inclement weather and navigate tough outdoor terrain.

“iRobot is building an ecosystem of robots and technologies that help people do more both inside and outside of the home,” said CEO Colin Angle, adding,. “The robot mower segment is well established in EMEA 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.”

The iRobot Terra robot mower will be available for sale in Germany and as a beta program in the United States this year. Specific availability and pricing will be announced at a later date (although, judging by the Roomba, it probably will be in the $1,000 range).

Research contact: @iRobot