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The rise of the floor-cleaning robot

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 02:35

March 15 - U.S. based robotics company iRobot is betting people are increasingly willing to have robots in their homes to perform household chores, and is using military technology to help its robots do a thorough job. Matt Cowan reports.

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Europeans are often represented as laggards when it comes to embracing innovative new technologies...well, here's one space where they're miles ahead of Americans according to a U.S. company named after the Isaac Asimov novel IRobot. That's right. Robotic floor cleaning. SOUNDBITE: Colin Angle, iRobot CEO saying (English): "We're selling most of our robots outside of the United States, principally in Europe. There's something about the European customer that must be open to the idea that maybe pushing an automatic vacuum cleaner every day isn't why they're here." Colin Angle is the CEO of the Massachussets based robotics company and is in London to launch a new floor scrubbing robot called Scooba. The PackBot you see in the background is designed for very different purposes - to reduce the risk to human life in combat zones. This robot can climb stairs. It has a remote controlled arm to investigate potentially dangerous situations. And it can even get back on an even keel if its knocked over. Saving lives and cleaning carpets - believe it or not, there is some overlap says Angle. SOUNDBITE: Colin Angle, iRobot CEO saying (English): "Our most famous robot, the Roomba vacuuming robot does a very thorough job cleaning your room. Why? Because the algorithms that were put into the robot came out of a military mine hunting program where obviously being thorough was incredibly important." The rise of the robot in our everyday lives has been a staple of futuristic thinking for quite some time. And to a certain extent, it is becoming a reality. There are robots to entertain us, robots to serve us and even humanoid robots designed to help the brighter among us learn the finer points of dentistry. But Angle says this is the new frontier. SOUNDBITE: Colin Angle, iRobot CEO saying (English): "We take vacuuming as seriously as we take bomb disposal." Finding simple solutions to complex problems is the best way, he says, to turn yesteryear's science fiction into tomorrow's commonplace reality. Matt Cowan, Reuters.

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The rise of the floor-cleaning robot

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 - 02:35

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