From Building Military Prototypes To Popular Consumer Robots

from the quite-a-process dept

Business Week is running an interview with the CEO of iRobot, where he talks about how it’s quite different running a company producing a very popular consumer robot gadget (the Roomba vacuum cleaner), as compared to a company building complex expensive robot prototypes for industry and the military. As he points out, the biggest issue was (for the first time) they actually had to pay attention to the cost of making the robot, and had to make tough calls on what features to leave out. There was also a bit of an issue learning how to do mass production of robots and handle customer service issues associated with consumer products. Sounds like an interesting transformation of a company. He also makes a very good point when asked about vacuum companies looking to compete: it’s not the vacuuming part that’s complex about the Roomba – it’s the robot – so, he believes they’ll be able to stay ahead. Besides, it certainly sounds like they don’t plan on sticking to robotic vacuums as their only consumer product going forward. For now, though, it’s been a great way to get people comfortable with the idea of having a “robot” in their homes. On a somewhat related note, Engadget has a feature about how to get into hardware check mode with your Roomba and make it do cool things.

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Comments on “From Building Military Prototypes To Popular Consumer Robots”

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John Bartley K7AAY (user link) says:

Roomba service quality is enviable

Twice, we’ve had the occasion to call for service issues on our Roomba Mk. I, and both times, the service has been superb. When a part had to be shipped, we had it 2 days later, with very little push on our part to make it happen. The other issue was also handled extremely well.

This is the QOS we used to receive from Sears, Maas Brothers and Burdines, waybackwhen in the day when price was not king. Today, I only get that QOS from T-Mobile and Micron, and every other manufacturer or vendor offers a gauntlet-style challenge to extract service from them.

Roomba is well worth study.

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