iRobot, the company behind the popular Roomba robot vacuums, has acquired Root Robotics, marking the company’s first foray into the education market.
Root Robotics makes the Root Robot, a cute little robot that introduces coding to kids at home or in classrooms.
iRobot did not disclose the financial terms of the acquisition but said that the deal wouldn’t affect the company’s 2019 bottom-line.
A Surprising Move
Since they started manufacturing robot vacuums, iRobot’s focus has been domestic robots. In addition to the Roomba, they also sell Braava robotic mops and, more recently, the Terra robotic lawnmower.
So it’s a bit surprising that the company would acquire an educational robotics startup.
In a press release, Colin Angle, the CEO of iRobot said, “The acquisition of Root Robotics allows iRobot to broaden the impact of its STEM efforts with a commercially available, educational robotic platform already being used by educators, students, and parents.”
The press release also says that this is part of iRobot’s plan to expand into more educational STEM products for both kids and educators.
So while domestic robots are the company’s bread and butter, it seems they are exploring further afield for more opportunities to create friendly and innovative robots.
About Root Robot
The Root robot looks like a miniature Roomba, moving around on flat surfaces using two wheels. It even has edge and obstacle detection sensors like a Roomba.
The robot is designed to help kids learn coding and problem solving through creativity.
The robot can draw different shapes on a flat surface such as a whiteboard, respond to touch and sound, scan colors and drawings, and much more.
It works with an iOS Root coding app on an iPhone or iPad.
The Root Robot introduces coding to kids as young as four years, mostly using graphics. As they grow older and learn more, coding becomes progressively challenging.
There are three levels of difficulty starting with basic graphical coding, then a slightly more complicated hybrid coding interface and finally full-text coding.
A single Root robot currently costs $199. You can order a pair for $399. For classrooms, there are packs of 6, 12, and 30 robots.
iRobot has been around since 1990, but they made the first Roomba in 2002.
Since then, the company has expanded its consumer robotics catalog. There are now more than half a dozen Roombas on sale.
Read our reviews of the latest Roomba models. The most impressive models are the Roomba i7/i7+ and s9/s9+.
These models came with new high-tech features including automatic dirt disposal, advanced floor mapping, and communication with the Braava Jet m6.
In addition to robotic vacuum cleaners, they also make robotic mops and robotic lawnmowers.
The Future of iRobot
In 2016, iRobot sold their military robotics company to focus more on consumer robots.
The acquisition of Root Robotics seems to be part of their grand plan to make all manner of consumer robots, not just helper robots to clean or lawn the more for us.
It will be interesting to see what other areas the company branches into. Perhaps we’ll finally have that robot butler that tech companies have been promising us for years.