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Roomba Rumbas To A Scheduled Beat

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A forthcoming new version of the robotic vacuum cleaner gets a nifty upgrade and new software.

The Roomba Scheduler includes a handheld scheduling remote and two virtual walls, and will retail for $330. The virtual wall devices keep the Roomba from passing into areas a consumer wants left alone.

And in a new development, Roomba’s maker iRobot will open up the application programming interfaces to third party development. This development activity could lead to making cameras or other attachments, expanding the entire personal robot market, according to CNET News.

“This is an opportunity for other companies to piggyback on iRobot platforms. The Roomba has a serial port,” said iRobot CEO Colin Angle. “There is a group that is working very seriously on a physical avatar.”

“I might log into a Web page and see what the robot sees and be able to drive the robot via my Web page…You could have a wireless Web cam and serve it up to the grid.”

The iRobot Roomba sales have reached 1.2 million units, at prices of $200 to $300 each. Later in the year, a linoleum scrubbing version called Scooba comes to market.

The company also produces robots for uses beyond the home. The Army has been using the company’s PackBot for reconnaissance of caves and other dangerous places where terrorists may be hiding. A smaller and lighter version called the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle is in development.

And, the company has been working on swarm technology for its robots. Tests of 128 robots demonstrate how a group of robots can be deployed across an area, and work in concert to find an object. The autonomous vehicles could be equipped to create a map of an area or building which they enter at multiple points.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Roomba Rumbas To A Scheduled Beat
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