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iRobot Corporation's Robotic Hand Could Be a Game Changer

January 6, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Steve Symington / The Motley Fool

"Google wants to build the delivery robot. I want to build the machine that opens the door for the delivery robot." -- Colin Angle

Those were the words spoken by iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT) CEO Colin Angle after Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) acquired Boston Dynamics a little more than a year ago. That was Google's eighth robotics-related acquisition during a span of just a few months, so industry watchers couldn't help but wonder whether the move would be bad news for other competitive players like iRobot.

Though best known for its popular Roomba robotic vacuums, iRobot also offers a number of antonymous telepresence robots built on its Ava mobile robotics platform. While its current commercial and healthcare iterations don't have arms or hands, Angle has long stated he hopes to evolve the platform into a sort of "robotic butler," operating within the confines of our homes.

Meanwhile, Boston Dynamics was made famous by its incredible series of walking, self-balancing bots, which can carry loads both big and small while traversing all kinds of difficult terrain. And so, the thinking went, to have Boston Dynamics' efforts backed by a deep-pocketed tech giant like Google would represent a huge threat to iRobot's long-term ambitions. Angle's statement above makes clear he disagrees with that thought.

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