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Some Robots Can Be Friendly

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, July 22, 2004

Some robots can be friendly. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Maybe things would have different in the latest Will Smith movie…if the robots did some of the vacuuming around the house. A company called iRobot has sold over half a million robotic vacuums over the last year and a half….and is now out with an update to the Roomba. The Roomba Discovery. Chairman and co-founder Helen Greiner…

"It's got a more powerful vacuum, it's got a bigger dust bin so it holds three times as much dirt and it's quieter operation, it's got better transition from hardwood to carpet and back again. But that's not the real exciting features. The real exciting features are robotic. The Roomba Discovery class has self re-charging. So once it's done cleaning or its battery runs low, it just simply returns to the home base station."

The updated model is priced at 249 dollars. A more basic model…has been cut to under 150 dollars. For fast…and often more thorough cleaning…you still want to have a conventional vacuum around, but the Roomba is fun…and generates lots of conversation. Where does iRobot go from here?

"We look at the dusting, the window washing, the mopping, the lawn mowing, the leaf raking, the bath tub cleaning, you could just come up with a list so easily. That's the target of this company."

How could robots get any friendlier than that. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.