iRobot was founded in 1990 by Colin Angle, Helen Greiner, and Dr. Rodney Brooks who were roboticists at Massaachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The initial robots were limited use special purpose robots which included the Genghis for extraterrestrial exploration and Ariel with crab-like legs that detected and eliminated mines in surf zones. The year 1998 proved to be defining for iRobot as it received a DARPA contract for the tactical mobile robot program which was responsible for the development of the PackBot. The PackBot had three major achievements in the 2001-2002 timeframe that ushered in popularity for the company in the robotics field:
- September 2001 – Searched the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York City after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
- June 2002 – Searched caves in Afghanistan for ammunition and hostile forces.
- September 2002 – Searched the Great Pyramids of Egypt. The live event was televised globally.
iRobot has sold more than two million of their residential robots and 1200 of their industrial and governmental robots to date. Majority of their residential sales are for their Roomba vacuuming robots while on the industrial and governmental side, PackBot took the lead. The PackBot’s are installed in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Below is a summary of iRobot’s current residential products:
|Roomba||9/2002||Home Vacuuming||Now in its 3rd generation, Roomba vacuums all types of floors, has intelligence to navigate rooms, avoid getting stuck or falling, and self-dock.|
|Scooba||5/2005||Floor Washer||Takes in a cleaning solution and uses it to prep, wash, scrub, and dry hardwood floors.|
|Dirt Dog||9/2006||Garage/Workshop/Patio Cleaner||A vacuum-less technology suited for rough surfaces. It is designed to pick up woodchips, nuts, bolts, etc. using high speed counter rotating brushes.|
|Verro||4/2007||Pool Cleaner||Cleans pool floors, walls, and stairs. Runs on 24V motor. Cleaning takes about an hour.|
|Looj||9/2007||Gutter Cleaner||Cleans K-style, aluminum, vinyl, or metal gutters. Cleans a 60-foot section in about 10 minutes. It operates using a 7.2V nickel-cadmium rechargeable battery.|
Below is a summary of iRobot’s current industrial/governmental products:
|PackBot||9/2001||Military Missions||Flexible payload allows for varied missions. Payload ports are equipped with Ethernet, USB, power, and 2 video ports. Portability and ease-of-use allows a single person to control multiple robots.|
|R-Gator||10/2004||Unmanned mission vehicle with manual override||Designed for Perimeter Petrol, Resupply, Route Clearance, and Surveillance/Reconnaissance.|
|PackBot 510||2/2007||Military Missions||2nd generation PackBot that is 30% faster. Able to lift 30 pounds but still portable and deployable by a single person.|
The pace of new product introductions accelerated in 2007. The indication from the company supports this trend of using common technology for products serving different purposes.
1. iRobot (IRBT) - Part 1 - Introduction.
2. iRobot (IRBT) - Part 2 - Business Issues.
3. iRobot (IRBT) - Part 3 - Outlook.