Made in Massachusetts: Robots

From floors to the front line, Bedford-based iRobot is on the cutting edge of robot technology.

“We feel like we’re not just building robots,” said EVP of Human Resources Russ Campanello, “We’re building a company, we’re building an industry.”

The company was founded in 1990 by MIT roboticists Colin Angle, Helen Greiner and Rodney Brooks.

“They fundamentally believed that robotics technology was going to change the world,” said Campanello.

The roots of robot technology seem primitive, but now, iRobot makes some of the most advanced products in the world.

“This is the 510 PackBot,” said Tom Phelps, Director of Robotics Products in North America. “This is the most versatile robot on the market today.”

Defense robots developed at iRobot were used during 9/11 and during the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Robots come in various sizes for various uses. All of them are incredibly durable.

“It can be thrown 30 to 40 feet horizontal,” said Phelps. “It’s designed to withstand a drop on to concrete from five meters.”

Robots used in battle can save lives. “Scooby-Doo” was destroyed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq after helping disable 19 other bombs. All the while, the operator was a safe distance away.

“Our entire product family will be able to be controlled with a tablet,” said Campanello.

From battle to business, iRobot has opened many doors.

“In the last few years, we have invested heavily in remote presence,” said Director of Product Management Marcio Macedo.

There are robots to take you to work or school, without you actually being at work, or school.

“It’s the closest to teleporting as is available today,” said Macedo.

iRobot’s home products revolutionized the way people clean. The Roomba, launched in 2002, is now used in millions of homes.

“The notion of having a robot take care of their floors really resonates with consumers,” said Director of Product Management Ken Bazydola. “It’s very simple to use. You put it on the floor, you push the cleaning button, and off you go. In the future, people will wonder why they ever vacuumed by hand.”

From households to hazards, iRobot’s mission is simple.

“We talk about our culture in a very simple way: we build cool stuff, we have a ton of fun, and we try to change the world,” said Campanello.

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