iRobot

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This article is about the robot company. For other uses, see I, Robot (disambiguation).
iRobot Corporation
Type Public
Traded as NASDAQIRBT
Industry Robots
Founded 1990
Founder(s) Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner
Headquarters Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A
Key people Rodney Brooks, Founder
Colin Angle, Founder/CEO/Chairman
Helen Greiner, Founder
Products Domestic robots
Military robots
Revenue Increase 400.95 million USD (2010)[1]
Operating income Increase 33.47 million USD (2010)[1]
Net income Increase 25.51 million USD (2010)[1]
Total assets US$254 million (2010)[1]
Total equity US$174.9 million (2010)[1]
Employees 423 (2007)
Website www.irobot.com
iRobot headquarters in Bedford

iRobot Corporation is an American advanced technology company founded in 1990 and incorporated in Delaware in 2000. It designs robots such as an autonomous home vacuum cleaner (Roomba), the Scooba that scrubs and cleans hard floors, and military and police robots, such as the PackBot.

iRobot is a public corporation, based in Bedford, Massachusetts.

History[edit]

iRobot was founded in 1990 by Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner after working in MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab.

  • In 1998 the company received a DARPA research contract which led to the development of the PackBot.
  • In September 2002, iRobot unveiled its home robots flagship, the Roomba, which sold a million units by 2004.[2]
  • iRobot began being traded on the NASDAQ in November 2005, under ticker symbol IRBT.
  • On September 17, 2012, iRobot announced that it had acquired Evolution Robotics, manufacturer of automated floor mopper Mint.[3]

iRobot has sold more than 8 million home robots, and has deployed more than 5,000 defense & security robots, as of 2012.[4]

In addition to deployment as bomb-disposal units with the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, PackBots have been used to gather data in dangerous conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site,[5] and an IRobot Seaglider detected underwater pools of oil after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[6]

Home robots[edit]

Roomba[edit]

Main article: Roomba

Roomba is an automated vacuum cleaning robot first released in 2002. Roomba is powered by a rechargeable battery, and many models are available with a docking station to which the Roomba should return to recharge at the end of its cleaning cycle. They work in conjunction with accessories that utilize both IR and RF.

In order to preserve its prime functioning and condition, the manual suggests cleaning the interior after three uses. The packaging includes a cleaning tool that empties the dustbin and a comb that allows one to scrape off all excess debris or hair on the brushes. It also includes several replaceable filters and brushes that should be changed every three months.

The company intentionally allows customers to hack the robot because they want people to experiment and improve the product. The API for the serial has been published and the serial port made easily accessible to make modifications easy to perform.[7]

Scooba[edit]

Main article: Scooba

Scooba is iRobot's floor washing robot. The product became commercially available in limited quantities in late 2005 before a full product release in 2006, although it still is not available in many overseas markets. Early models required either a special non-bleach cleaning solution or white vinegar to wash hard floors. Newer units can also use plain water. Several versions have been marketed.

Braava[edit]

Main article: Braava

Braava is iRobot's Floor Mopping Robot, Designed to for must of the hard-surfaces. Braava uses disposable or microfiber cleaning cloths for damp and/or dry cleaning.

Create[edit]

Main article: iRobot Create

Create is a hobby robot, released in 2007. Create offers users the possibility of changing or adapting the robot's functions through experimentation with the basic elements of robotics as well as by adding sensors, grippers, wireless connections, computers, or other hardware.

Verro[edit]

Main article: Verro

Verro is a swimming-pool cleaning robot released in April 2007.[8]

Looj[edit]

Main article: Looj

Looj is a gutter-cleaning robot released in September 2007.

Discontinued products[edit]

Dirt Dog[edit]

Main article: iRobot Dirt Dog

Dirt Dog is designed for workshop use and was released in 2006. This product picks up small objects such as nuts, bolts, dirt, and debris from a workshop or similar floor. The unit can be used on hard floors, shop carpets and industrial floor surfaces.[9] The Dirt Dog was discontinued in late 2010.

My Real Baby[edit]

My Real Baby was a robotic toy marketed by iRobot from 2000 and produced in partnership with the toy manufacturer Hasbro. It is no longer in production. This product, which was meant to look like a human infant, employed animatronic facial expressions and was developed from an emotionally expressive and responsive robot developed by iRobot corporation called "IT."

ConnectR[edit]

Connect R was made in 2010 and then discountiuned.

Military and policing robots[edit]

A PackBot Scout robot shown with its second pair of treads in the horizontal position. This robot is conducting search and rescue at ground zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

iRobot has an extensive line of robots designed for use in military or policing functions.

First Generation Robots[edit]

  • Genghis (1991) was iRobot's first robot. It was designed as a test platform for researchers. The robot is currently at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
  • Ariel (1996) is a crab-like robot designed to remove mines, both in and out of water.
  • Urbie (1997) was a proof of concept robot designed for urban environments. The platform was designed with two tank-like tracks so it could climb stairs. Urbie was field tested at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA; one model was gifted to a local high school on indefinite loan in 2005. High school students at Columbus High School in Columbus, GA, reconditioned the robot and created a usage manual for future students to continue to benefit from Urbie's list of talents. Photographs of Urbie at different events can be viewed at http://www.columbus2space.org/. Urbie is built around a light, machined aluminum chassis. The exterior consists of flat aluminum plates, bent at the front and back, which are attached to the chassis with small hex screws. 2 dc motors power the forward rotating arms, while 2 slightly larger dc motors power the body length treads. From the outside, Urbie is an exact replica of the PackBot Scout. The front compartment holds 2 banks of LEDs, one white light, the other infrared. The center-front compartment holds a video camera and an infrared camera. Both cameras' images are transmitted back to a handheld LCD screen and remote control console via a single antenna. The image that is transmitted back is controlled by a mechanical switch, thrown remotely inside the chassis by a remote controlled actuator. The motors are controlled the same way that a remote control airplane or car is. The ability to reverse the tread direction on both sides gives the robot a 0 degree turn radius. In 2006, the exterior body was refinished, the antennas were repaired (replaced by a fishing pole) and some of the interior electronics were updated. The robot is simply constructed, with basic electronic controls, and is the same physical design as the current PackBots, it only lacks the digital processor.
  • SWARM is an artificial intelligence research project designed to develop algorithms for swarms of hundreds of individual robots. This project is sponsored by DARPA.

PackBot[edit]

Main article: PackBot
  • PackBot is a series of military robots designed for situational awareness, reconnaissance, explosive ordnance disposal and other missions. More than 2000 PackBots are currently on station in Iraq and Afghanistan, with hundreds more on the way.[10]

SUGV[edit]

Warrior[edit]

Main article: iRobot Warrior
  • Warrior, currently in development (expected deployment in 2008[11]), is a 250 lb (110 kg) machine that can travel up to 12 miles per hour (19 km/h) through rough terrain and up and down stairs while carrying payloads weighing over 100 pounds (45 kg). Its potential uses include bomb disposal, battlefield casualty extraction and firefighting.[12]

R-Gator[edit]

Main article: iRobot R-Gator
  • R-Gator, a product of a partnership with John Deere Corporation, is a small utility vehicle with a robotics package added. It is capable of autonomous operation including waypoint following with obstacle avoidance, following dismounted infantry and other vehicles and semi-autonomous operation such as teleoperation with obstacle avoidance. Vehicles are currently in production.[13][14]

Negotiator[edit]

Main article: iRobot Negotiator
  • Negotiator is a man-portable civil-response surveillance and reconnaissance robot.[15]

Transphibian[edit]

Main article: iRobot Transphibian
  • Transphibian is a man-portable UUV and bottom crawler that autonomously inserts itself into the water and operates in a shallow area. It is designed for mine detection, harbor defense and surveillance.[16]

Chembot[edit]

  • Chembot is a DARPA-funded prototype of a shape-shifting robot without motors, wheels or any rigid elements. It runs on chemical power and is made using dielectric elastomers, which are extremely flexible and can alter their shape in electric or magnetic fields. Ultimately, the program aims to build a robot that is completely squishy and able to squeeze through a hole 'the size of a 10 pence coin'.[17]

Ember[edit]

  • Ember is a prototype miniature, tracked robot, weighing around 1 lb and costing so little to make that it is intended to be virtually disposable. Ember moves at walking pace, can right itself when it is turned over and is controlled by a simple touchscreen application on an Apple iPhone. Ember is a military robot designed to boost radio communications and capture video footage to aid infantry warfighters.[17]

AIRarm[edit]

AIRarm is an inflatable arm robot developed by iRobot. The inflatable arm uses pumps to inflate the arm. Since the arm uses strings and actuators, no motors were used at the joints.[18]

FirstLook[edit]

FirstLook is a small reconnaissance robot weighing 5.2 lb (2.4 kg) with a top speed of 3.8 mph (6.1 km/h) and line-of-sight control range of 200 m (219 yd). It has visible and thermal cameras and infrared sensors to gather and transmit images of buildings, caves, or other locations. It can participate in explosive ordnance disposal by carrying 2.5 lb (1.1 kg) of C4 explosive to an IED. The robot has the ability to mesh together a network of feeds from other robots to extend the range of its sensors. The FirstLook has CBRN detectors and is semi-autonomous, meaning it can perform tasks like course correction and flipping itself over without direct intervention. 100 were bought by JIEDDO in March 2012 and the Pentagon has ordered hundreds more.[19]

Medical Robots[edit]

RP-VITA[edit]

  • RP-VITA, or Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, is a medical robot jointly produced with InTouch Health. The robot will be cloud-connected and have access to a patient's medical record, and will also be able to plug in diagnostic devices such as stethoscopes, otoscopes, and ultrasound.[20]

Research and dual-role robots[edit]

Ranger[edit]

Main article: iRobot Ranger
  • Ranger is a man-portable UUV that supports technology development related to mine warfare, expeditionary warfare, homeland defense, underwater surveillance / reconnaissance and other missions. Ranger is also suitable for ocean research and commercial applications related to search and survey.[21]

Seaglider[edit]

Main article: iRobot Seaglider
  • Seaglider is a long-range dual-role autonomous underwater vehicle entering production under an exclusive manufacturing agreement from the University of Washington. Capable of operating for months over thousands of kilometers on a single battery charge, networked Seagliders provide scientists and naval intelligence with cost-effective real-time access to oceanographic measurements.[22][23] The Seaglider is also used in military applications where it is more usually designated as an unmanned underwater vehicle.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "2010 iRobot Annual Report". iRobot. Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  2. ^ http://www.irobot.com/million_roombas/million.htm
  3. ^ http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=203
  4. ^ http://www.irobot.com/us/Company/About/Our_History.aspx
  5. ^ http://www.engadget.com/2011/04/18/irobot-packbots-enter-fukushima-nuclear-plant-to-gather-data-ta/
  6. ^ http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2012/09/12/packbots-roombas-and-now-healthcare-the-irobot-story/?single_page=true
  7. ^ Wright, Mic (2010-10-23). "The Wired Interview: iRobot CEO Colin Angle". Wired.com. 
  8. ^ iRobot Verro Pool Cleaning Robot
  9. ^ iRobot - iRobot Dirt Dog Shop Sweeping Robot
  10. ^ "iRobot Delivers 2,000th PackBot Robot". 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  11. ^ Attack of the iRobot
  12. ^ iRobot Warrior: If Your House is Really, Really Dirty
  13. ^ http://www.deere.com/en_US/contractsales/fedmilitarysales/media/pdf/R-Gator_Brochure.pdf
  14. ^ R-Gator unmanned military ground vehicle unveiled
  15. ^ http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=138
  16. ^ http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=428
  17. ^ a b Harris, Mark (2009-05-31). "iRobot where the Terminator is coming to life". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  18. ^ Ackerman, Evan. "iRobot Developing Inflatable Robot Arms, Inflatable Robots". IEEE Spectrum Automaton. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  19. ^ Pentagon Orders Hundreds more FirstLook Robots - Defensetech.org, 3 January 2014
  20. ^ Halverson, Nic. "Robot Doctor Will Now See You". Discovery News. 
  21. ^ http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=427
  22. ^ http://features.csmonitor.com/innovation/2008/06/19/no-one-lives-in-this-submarine/
  23. ^ http://www.engadget.com/2008/06/11/irobot-to-convert-uws-seaglider-into-military-drones/

External links[edit]