How Finding Dust Bunnies Could Save Your Life

Jim Louderback of PC Magazine sat down with Helen Greiner, Chair of iRobot (producers of the Roomba) and talked about current and future uses of robotics.

Specialized iRobot models have been issued to the military which perform tasks like clearing caves in Afghanistan, and detecting roadside bombs in Iraq. Some models have newly added explosive sniffing capabilities.

The military robots are not completely different than the ones that clean your floors. Apparently the search algorithm used to insure your living room is fully vacuumed is the same as those used to detect cluster bomb remnants.

Louderback asked will we see a battle of bots in the future? Will we see armies of robots duking it out on the battlefield? Greiner says not yet, it’s mostly for keeping humans at a distance from danger.

The future? Looks like machines akin to Rosie from the Jetsons is not where we’re headed. Think fleets of specialized robots, not one all-purpose machine. Greiner says a logical move is to create caregiving robots for the aged and infirm. She says two “non-cleaning robots” are going to be released this fall.

Some fun stuff: iRobot engineers at play programmed a version of the Roomba that can get a can of beer from the refrigerator, and can follow a hamster wherever it goes.