iRobot is best known for their robotic vacuums, which were invented twelve years after the company was formed at the MIT AI Lab by four members: Colin Angle, Rodney Brooks, and Helen Greiner. Amazon recently acquired the home robotics company for $1.7 billion in cash.
After the merger, Angle will remain as CEO of the company. Brooks and Greiner have both gone on to start other firms, while Greiner has also become a board member at Amazon and Microsoft.
iRobot CEO Colin Angle expressed great enthusiasm for Amazon in a statement. Why? Because the Amazon team shares our drive to create useful and innovative products that make life easier, Angle said. Some of iRobots most famous inventions include the Roomba and the iRobot Operating System.
The Robotics Market
Since acquiring Kiva Systems in the 2000s, Amazon has been trying to get into the robotics market. However, the Amazon Robotics division is focused solely on their warehouse and inventory management. Recently, Amazon has started to enter the home/consumer market with Astro, a robot that is cheerful but does not have the focus that Roomba does.
Amazon Devices VP Dave Limp said that consumers value their time, and chores take up time that could be used for more enjoyable things. For years, the iRobot team has proven their creativity and capacity to revolutionize how we clean in our homes, making products that are useful and unique while still being practical. The iRobot team is great, and I am happy to work together on ideas that can make people’s lives more easy and fun.
Roomba has been using Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers for some time, and Amazon and Roomba have gotten closer because of it.
The Roomba is highly popular, and the firm has had problems making other products as popular. They have tried to make many different home robot services, like washing floors and mowing lawns. Some of these robots include Terra, which is not being made because of the current epidemic.
Birth of iRobot
iRobot has made several acquisitions in the past, including connected air purifier company Aeris, which they bought last year. Their telepresence robot Ava was spun off a year ago, and was later purchased by FLIR Systems in early 2019. Before that, iRobot separated their military contracting branch into a company called Endeavor, which is now owned by FLIR Systems as well.
Although the purchase is still being checked out by regular regulatory bodies, Amazon would have to show them that they have good privacy protection measures in place. Advocacy groups are concerned about the acquirement because of Ring’s previous ownership by Amazon, as well as the fact that Amazon owns the most popular home robot on the market. The Roomba vacuum has been gaining more and more sophisticated sensors in recent years, enabling them to create 3D maps of a consumers home.
Amazon has been extremely active in the past few months, making big purchases like MGM and OneMedical. If the company acquires Botify, it would be one of their biggest transactions ever. This would be a huge moment for home robots, as Botify is a leading brand in the field. iRobot is well known for their Roomba vacuum robots, which have been available to home consumers for about a decade. Jibo, Anki, and Kuri also failed to be available to mainstream consumers, but Amazon acquiring iRobot might help them have home consumer success like they did in industrial robotics.