CES 2020: iRobot is developing a Roomba with arms

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iRobot developing a Roomba robot butler.
Image: iRobot

At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, iRobot CEO Colin Angle revealed an interesting detail about the company’s R&D process. The executive told Bloomberg his firm had prototyped a version of the Roomba-esque robot with arms. However, the company’s next-generation helper bot isn’t just an upgrade on its popular autonomous vacuum cleaner.

Indeed, the corporation is working on a machine that will function as a multifaceted robot butler.

iRobot’s Robot Butler

Angle explained to Bloomberg his firm’s robot with arms project began as part of its Defense & Security division. Though the company sold off the unit that would become Endeavor Robotics in 2016, it kept working on its artificial appendage initiative. Now, the firm has successfully built a prototype helper bot with limbs.

iRobot intends to produce a machine capable of loading a dishwasher, picking up clothes, and serving a meal. However, consumers looking to buy their own version of Rosie, the robotic maid are in for a bit of a wait. Angle said his company doesn’t plan to release its autonomous housekeeper for at least five years.

Nevertheless, the firm’s robo-butler plans are more than just conceptual. In addition to its armed prototype, the company has made significant advances in its mapping technology. iRobot’s newest Roomba, the s9+, has the capability to chart its owners’ homes with optical sensors capable of capturing 230,400 data points per second. The robot vacuum is also able to empty the dirt and debris it picks up into a recharging dock.

The Consumer Technology Association considered iRobot’s latest advancement so significant, it named the Roomba S9+ as a CES 2020 Innovation Award Honoree.

iRobot’s Other Projects

Although iRobot won’t launch its robot housekeeper until 2025, it will be making another product available in the near term. Last January, the consumer robotics company announced that it had made an autonomous lawnmower.

Similar to the Roomba, the Terra t7 Robot Mower uses visual sensors and a computer vision algorithm to perform tasks. The company explained its robotic landscaper is capable of mowing in straight back-and-forth lines but won’t accidentally destroy users’ flower beds. The bot will also come with smart beacons that will ensure it stays within the boundaries of its owner’s lawn.

Moreover, iRobot developed an app that will allow users to schedule when its lawn cutting machine goes to work and specify their preferred grass height.

Last year, the corporation said the Terra would be available for sale in Germany before being deployed worldwide in 2020. In September, iRobot stated its lawn cutting machine had done well in beta. Moreover, Motley Fool reported the firm’s Federal Communications Commission filings revealed the bot would be ruggedized for inclement weather. The documents also revealed the machine would shut down if taken and placed in an uncharted yard.

As such, Americans who are sick of the work of residential lawn care should gain some relief late this year. But the privileges of autonomous mowing likely won’t come cheap; competing robot mowers sell for $1,000 to $3,500.

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