Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Future of iRobot's Domestic Robots?

Just a few weeks ago I watched iRobot's CEO, Colin Angle, speak about the future of their domestic robotics division. He aired in the month of June 2009 on a Discovery Channel series called "Next World"; he seemed to have made this short interview within iRobot's HQ or research lab. He mentioned the following interesting ideas into the near future of domestic robotics:

  1. Create a system to eliminate the need of dust/particle bin on the Roomba (possible use of atomizers).
  2. Having different iRobot robots work together by letting them communicate with each other (i.e. Roomba letting Scooba know when he is done sweeping and let Scooba start scrubbing the floors)
  3. Create a "Laundry Robot with manipulators" to help you in the laundry room.
  4. Create a "Virtual Presence Robot" like the long forgotten "ConnectR".

These are exciting news from if iRobot pursue these projects and improve on the ones that exist today. Evidence can be found, within DomesRO, that can back up Colin Angle's predictions:

  1. Eliminating the need to use the particle/dust bin. Check this post about iRobot Patents (June 2009)
  2. Robots working together by using inter-communication techniques. Check this post about iRobot research on "swarm robotics" (August 2008).
  3. A robot to assist in your laundry room. Check this post about iRobot's Domestic Robot Product Road Map (May 2008).
  4. Creation of better and more affordable "virtual presence" robots. Check out this post about the cancellation of the ConnectR project and how it brought them back to the drawing board but not out of the race.
Something is definitely brewing behind the walls of iRobot HQ; we just do not know if this recent silence is a good or bad thing for them and us.

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