Video Friday: Roomba Turns 10!

Happy birthday dear Roooombaaaaaa, happy birthday to you!

2 min read
Video Friday: Roomba Turns 10!

This week, the iRobot Roomba celebrated its 10th birthday. Ten years of autonomous vacuuming, and we're confident that there's even more amazingness ahead. Why are we confident? Just look at those cakes, man! That's enough to instill anyone with confidence. And hunger. Okay, mostly hunger. We have video of the cakes in action (yes, there is action), plus lots more, for this week's Video Friday.


So what should we infer from the fact that everyone went for the Verro and the Scooba? Least popular? Tastiest?

Seriously though, 10 years is a long time for this little robot, and it's undergone quite an evolution:

And here are a bunch (seriously, a bunch) of things that you may not have known about Roomba:

And lest you forget that iRobot makes other home robots, here's a video of a Looj doing what a Looj does:

Unofficial statement from iRobot on this event:

At the time of 12:45 pm EST on Friday, September 14, 2012, the iRobot Looj 330 gutter cleaning robot did in fact annihilate the little weedy tree in the gutter on iRobot headquarters. It took approximately 40 minutes for the determined robot to thoroughly clean the stretch of gutter while keeping the operators safe. Scott was deemed the victor.
“We build our robots to tackle dull, dirty and dangerous jobs. This one in particular was certainly dirty and dangerous, but far from dull!” Said Outdoor Product Manager Jeff Karlson. “I am very proud of this robot today – it proved it was truly re-engineered to be better and more amazing than previous generations. I look forward to getting back to work building more outdoor robots.”
“It’s a shame that I lost, and was humiliated in front of the entire company,” said Jim. “But I’m glad the robot actually works!”

Congratulations to iRobot for proving for the last 10 years that you can make good robots and money at the same time, and we're looking forward to another Roomba retrospective in 2022.


In non-iRobot news, I Heart Engineering has put an open source hobby/research/education grade robotic arm on Kickstarter. Why should you care? Here's why:

The original design requirement was for the arm to be able to manipulate 12oz cans for robotic beverage delivery tasks. The Baccus arm is an ideal upgrade for your party robot.


[ Kickstarter ]



And now, this:

Via [ Geekologie ]



Texas A&M's AMBER (A&M Bipedal Experimental Robot) is a custom bipedal halfanoid that walks with a human-like heel toe gait.

Custom means custom, from ground up hardware to ground up software. Impressive!

[ AMBER Lab ]



Check out the arms (and grippers!) on Yaskawa's Dexter robot as it deals hands of blackjack to humans attending  IMTS2012 in Chicago:

[ Motoman ]



Finally this week, MOAR ROBOT COMBAT VIDEOS! If you're anywhere near the SF Bay Area, or even if you're not, don't forget to buy tickets to see all this action LIVE LIVE LIVE at ComBots Cup VII on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 - 21.

[ Combots ]

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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