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Last Updated on August 9, 2022 by Editor Futurescope
Amazon plans to buy iRobot, maker of the iconic Roomba robotic vacuum and other products, for $1.7 billion in cash.
The two companies announced their merger agreement on Friday morning, which will result in the acquisition of the latter by the former. Amazon will purchase iRobot for $61 per share.
The iRobot company was founded in 1990 by three MIT artificial intelligence lab scientists: Collin Angle, Rodney Brooks, and Helen Greiner. Today, the iRobot portfolio goes beyond the popular Roomba vacuum cleaners to include other cleaning products and mapping and navigation technologies.
IRobot is a global consumer robot company that designs and builds thoughtful robots and intelligent home innovations to make life better. IRobot revolutionized home cleaning in 2002 with the introduction of the Roomba robot vacuum. Today, iRobot is a global enterprise that has sold millions of robots worldwide, making life easier for people all over the planet. IRobot’s expansive product portfolio features innovative cleaning, mapping, and navigation technologies. From this portfolio, iRobot’s engineering team is able to develop robots and smart home devices that help make consumers’ homes easier to maintain and healthier places to live. For more information about iRobot, please visit www.irobot.com.
IRobot’s 32 years of independence will come to an end with a successful merger. The company was born in 1990 from the minds of MIT researchers and focused on military robots like PackBot. In 2002, Roomba unveiled its first robovac, quickly becoming a popular choice for homeowners and racking up sales of a million units by 2004. This marked a major turning point for the company, which has continued to innovate and release new products in the years since. The company’s success led to an expansion of its product lineup to include items like robotic mops (Braava), and it eventually sold its military business in 2016.
Amazon produces a range of consumer products including the Alexa and Echo smart speakers, Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets. Its Amazon Robotics division focuses on warehouse and fulfillment services, after acquiring Kiva Systems 10 years ago. The division also launched Astro, a home robot that helps with tasks around the house.
Amazon has many of the elements needed to create an almost sentient smart home, one that can anticipate what you want it to do and do it without you asking. With iRobot, Amazon has the potential to create a truly amazing and innovative home. This is something Amazon has already started to do with its Hunches feature.
From a smart home perspective, it seems clear Amazon wants iRobot for the maps it generates to give it a deep understanding of our homes. The vacuum company has intimate knowledge of our floor plans and, crucially, how they change. It knows the layout of your home, where your kitchen and kids’ rooms are, how new your sofa is, and if you’ve recently turned the guest room into a nursery.
The connected Roomba vacuums and mops from iRobot clean homes multiple times a week, mapping and remapping the spaces as they go. On its latest model, the j7 IRobot has added a front-facing, AI-powered camera that, according to Angle, can detect more than 43 million objects in people’s homes. Other models have a low-resolution camera that points skyward for navigation.
The iRobot CEO, Colin Engle, will continue to lead the company even after the deal closes. However, The purchase will not happen immediately, as it still needs approval from regulators and iRobot shareholders.
Amazon is acquiring iRobot at a time when the robot maker has faced difficulties. On Friday, the company’s second-quarter results were reported and showed a 30% drop in revenue from a year earlier, mainly due to “unexpected order reductions, delays and cancellations” from retailers across North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.