i3 - November/December 2019 - 36

FOUNDER, CEO, IROBOT
( 1 9967
67 - )

R

obots have played a
starring, if fictional,
role in Hollywood.
However, robots didn't
become a household reality
until Colin Angle.
Born in 1967 in
Schenectady, NY, Colin Angle
developed a passion for
building things from an early
age. As a child, he stopped
his mother from calling the
plumber to repair a broken
toilet, claiming he could fix
it. Using Richard Scarry's
How Things Work, he did. His
passion for fixing things led
him to MIT, where, inspired
by Star Wars and The Jetsons,
Angle joined Professor
Rodney Brooks' Artificial
Intelligence Lab. Angle's
master thesis was Genghis,
a six-legged autonomous
walking robot with an 8-bit
microprocessor and 256byte brain, which was on
display at the Smithsonian in
Washington, D.C., for 10 years.
In 1990, after earning a
B.S. in electrical engineering
and a master's in computer
science from MIT, Angle
teamed up with Brooks
and another student, Helen
Greiner, to found iRobot, with
Angle as CEO. Their idea was
simple, yet ambitious: to make
practical robots a reality.

36

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019

iRobot developed some of
the world's most important
robots. The company inspired
the first Micro Rovers used
by NASA, revealed mysteries
of the Great Pyramid of Giza,
and deployed the first ground
robots used in combat by the
U.S. Army, saving thousands
of lives in Afghanistan and
Iraq. iRobot brought the
first self-navigating, FDAapproved remote presence
robots to hospitals and
developed robots to help
save the environment. The
SeaGlider found harmful
subsea oil in the Gulf of
Mexico during the Deepwater
Horizon crisis in 2010, leading
to a more complete cleanup,
and the PackBot helped shut
down the Fukushima Daiichi
nuclear power plant in Japan
in 2011.
But building home robots
for consumers had always
been Angle's dream. Each
time he mentioned that he
built robots, he was asked
"A robot on Mars is nice, but

when are you going to clean
my floor?"
On September 18, 2002,
iRobot did just that, unveiling
the Roomba Intelligent
FloorVac. Affordable, practical
and effective, the Roomba
was an immediate hit, selling
more than a million units
across 25 countries in less
than three years. Surprisingly,
Roomba became more than
an appliance to its many
owners - more than 80
percent of buyers named their
Roomba and considered it a
family member. At the start,
Angle and his team took turns
answering the company's
support line. Angle advised
one woman to return a
Roomba in need of repair. "No,"
the woman replied indignantly.
"I'm not sending you Rosie!"
After Roomba's success
came robots that cleaned
shop floors, gutters and
pools, fulfilling Angle's vision
of intelligent and purposefirst robots designed to
help people do more. In

2015, iRobot introduced the
Roomba 980, which included
innovative floor mapping
technology, followed by the
Braava jet mop (2017), the
Roomba i7+, designed to clean
specific rooms and empty
itself (2018), and, in 2019, Terra,
a robot lawn mower. In 2019,
iRobot broke new ground
announcing the Roomba
s9+ and Braava jet m6, which
partner to maintain the home.
iRobot's success has
enabled Angle to give back.
He worked with Congress to
establish National Robotics
Week and created iRobot
STEM in 2009, an educational
program that has inspired
hundreds of thousands of
students with hands-on
demonstrations of robotics
and engineering.
Under Angle's leadership
as chair and CEO, iRobot has
grown from an MIT startup to
the global leader in consumer
robots, with more than $1.09
billion in revenue and 1,000
employees in 12 countries.
With more than 25 million
robots sold worldwide, iRobot
and Angle have turned robots
glamorized by Hollywood
into a home reality, providing
people with smarter ways to
clean and accomplish more in
their daily lives.
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N



i3 - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - November/December 2019

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