All About Robots
Your one-stop site for everything mechatronic
By Prateek Sahay
Best known for their Roomba robotic vacuum cleaning robot, iRobot is a maker of household, educational, military, and aquatic robots. Their robots built under government defense contracts are:
- 510 Packbot
- 710 Warrior
iRobot's suite of defense bots look very similar because they all serve the same purpose: search missions too dangerous or risky for humans. Packbot, Warrior, and Firstlook are designed to easily manage stairs and difficult terrains.
iRobot's lineup of household robots currently consists of
Roomba is iRobot's oldest and best-selling robot thus far. Since its release in 2002, the company has sold 5 million machines, Roomba features a unique algorithm which allows the robot to navigate and clean the entire floor of any room of any size and shape using two bumper sensors mounted on its front and a cliff sensor. Once Roomba finishes its cleaning cycle or is close to running out of power, it automatically finds its charging station and will dock itself. Roomba models range from $349 - $699.
Scooba looks similar to Roomba, but is for washing hard floors. Scooba was released in 2005 and uses pre-filled water to wash tiled and wooden floor spaces. Scooba is priced $279 - $499
Looj was released in 2007 as a very simple gutter-cleaning robot. Looj sells for $299.
Verro is a pool cleaning robot also released in 2007 that sucks up leaves and other particulates in swimming pools. It runs on a relatively low voltage in case its power cable disconnects and sends a current through the water.
Rethink, recently renamed from Heartland Robotics, unveiled its flagship manufacturing robot named Baxter in September of 2012. Priced at $22,000 and supporting maximum payloads of about 5 pounds, Baxter is meant for simple assembly line purposes. Baxter's key feature is that he can be taught tasks by humans by guiding his arms and clinching his grippers to, in effect, "show" him how to handle objects on an assembly line. Baxter also shows a multitude of emotions on his head-screen, which also features a camera with face-detection built-in.
The idea Rethink pursued while building Baxter was to built a more people-friendly robot. Up until now, the majority of robots have stayed in compartments separate from humans because they were very dangerous to be around, such as automobile construction robots. Baxter is very safe to be around, and will automatically pause in place if he bumps into someone or something.
Though best known for their automobiles, Toyota is has also made its name in humanoid assistive robots, more commonly known as nanny robots.
For $5000, you can buy your own mPower 1000, Myomo's biomechanical interfacing arm. Traumatic brain injuries leading to stroke, spinal cord injury (SCI), multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy (CP), or muscular dystrophy (MD) often result in paralysis of the arm, and such patients find their ability to do most daily essential tasks very limited. Myomo aims to bring motion back to these people, as suggested by their name, "My-own-motion." The arm acts as an aid to the during patient rehabilitation as the the brain begins to rewire neural pathways to regain motion in the arm. The company uses technology developed at MIT, and is based in