Everyone who has a suction robot at home knows the little quirks of mechanical helpers. They like to get stuck, want to be emptied or need the attention of the owner in any other way. This situation is to change now at least with iRobot, because the market leader of the suction robots spendiert its robots an extensive update, which is to make the machines more the partner of humans. The German news magazine “Der stern” spoke with Colin Angle, iRobot’s boss, and had his vision of the collaborative suction robot explained to him.
“Genius Home Intelligence” – the new philosophy of robotics
“Genius Home Intelligence” is the name of the new type of user-robot interaction that iRobot has come up with. It is not only about new functionalities in the way the robots suck, but also about a completely new philosophy for household robots. Over the last 16 years, iRobot has encountered an amazing phenomenon in the use of its robots. Even when the vacuum cleaners start up as programmed by the user, they are often switched off because they disturb the occupant or appear to him to be annoying.
This throws the entire previous thesis of fully autonomous robotics in the home off track and brings iRobot to a new conclusion:
“People do not want the robot to become more and more autonomous and independent. Customers want more control over what the robot does”.
This new insight is changing everything. iRobot now wants to be much more integrated into the smart home and make greater use of the artificial intelligence in the processors of the suction robots. The household robots should become intelligent companions of humans and actively communicate with them to provide the best experience. One should feel a little reminded of the principle of the faithful butler from the past. Nobody knew the master of the house as well as the servant, who showed himself elegantly and inconspicuously as a companion through the day. This is exactly how the robots of the future should be: unobtrusive and useful.
In the future, the iRobot should be able to distinguish individual zones, such as the dining table or the couch, even better and consistently avoid possible traps in which it might otherwise get stuck. It will thus learn more from past mistakes and optimize itself independently. According to the new philosophy of the robotics company, the everyday life of its owner should also be more strongly integrated into the decisions of the vacuum cleaner.
In this way, the robots are to connect with other devices in the house in order to reach logical conclusions. If, for example, the alarm system is activated or the user’s smartphone moves away from the house, the robot can conclude that the house is empty and it can vacuum undisturbed.
“This is my task, I dedicate my life to the idea of building the robot industry. It’s not just about vacuum cleaners, it’s about a cooperating AI that allows a robot to talk and communicate with humans – that’s a central interface.” – Colin M. Angle, CEO iRobot
With its new generation of robots, iRobot wants to centrally change human-machine interaction and bring the collaborative robot, as it is already used in industry, into the home. Colin Angle is certain that this is a path that will pay off in the long run, because in the future, robots must be a partner for the user and not a burden.
Post picture: iRobot