iRobot Corp., a leader in delivering robotic technology-based solutions, today commemorated its 20th anniversary. Founded in 1990 when Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists Colin Angle and Helen Greiner teamed up with their professor Dr. Rodney Brooks, the company is widely recognized as a pioneer leading the way in establishing a mobile robotics industry.
"iRobot's mission is to change the world by building practical robots that make a difference, while delivering increased value to our shareholders," said Colin Angle, iRobot chairman and CEO. "We are honored to play a leading role in building an industry that has already changed the lives of millions. Practical robots are something that many of us have dreamed of for decades, and we are excited to be bringing this technology to the masses.
"It is remarkable how far robotics has come over the past 20 years, both in the home and on the battlefield," continued Angle. "I look forward to seeing what the next 20 years will bring as we expect robotic technologies to continue making critical contributions in new and important ways."
In iRobot's early days, a team designed the behavior-controlled rovers for NASA that led to the Sojourner exploring Mars in 1997. The team won the NASA Group Achievement Award for its accomplishments and has their names inscribed inside the case of Spirit, the Mars exploration rover on display at NASA.
In 2002, iRobot launched its flagship products, the Roomba® floor vacuuming robot and PackBot® tactical mobile robot. To date, the company has sold more than five million home robots worldwide, making its award-winning products among the best-selling consumer robots in history. Also, more than 3,000 iRobot PackBot robots have been delivered to a broad range of military and civilian customers worldwide. These robots have performed tens of thousands of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and continue to save lives every day.
Recent initiatives continue to accelerate iRobot's push into other strategic areas, including maritime systems. The iRobot Seaglider, a long-range, high-endurance unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), can collect ocean data for up to 10 months at a time, offering a cost-effective way for researchers to conduct maritime operations. In 2008, iRobot established an office in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. dedicated to autonomous maritime systems. iRobot has also developed and has begun delivering the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV), a smaller and lighter version of the combat-proven PackBot that provides warfighters with increased situational awareness and allows them to perform dangerous missions from safe standoff distances.
"I commend iRobot for achieving this significant milestone and for its leading role in establishing Massachusetts as a premier robotics region," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. "Robotics continues to be a growing industry and is a significant catalyst for job creation that will foster future economic growth in the years ahead."
Looking ahead, the company will explore the potential of robotics and drive innovation in other arenas, including:
• Healthcare: iRobot believes that next-generation practical robots have the potential to extend the time that people can live independently in their homes. Robots may be capable of assisting in senior care in a variety of real-life situations, including household chores and the on-time administration of medication. This could ultimately lower the cost for care.
• STEM Education: iRobot is a leader in supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education in schools to revitalize the foundation of American innovation and competitiveness. With its SPARK (Starter Programs for the Advancement of Robotics Knowledge) program and leadership role in organizing National Robotics Week (April 10-18, 2010), iRobot is devoting its time and resources to use the wonder and genius of robots to inspire in students K-12 a curiosity and interest in STEM-related subjects.
• Government Research & Development: iRobot's Research Group performs cutting-edge robotics research, funneling the resulting next-generation technologies into iRobot product lines that cover a wide variety of mission profiles. Research projects awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have led to state-of-the-art products that revolutionize how consumers and the military use robots to complete tasks.