iRobot

13 stories
Clipped wings
iRobot founder Helen Greiner on drones, the FAA, and how to succeed in business without really flying
AR DRone flights
Helen Greiner didn't just put the 'robot' in iRobot. Starting as an 11-year-old who wanted to build R2-D2, she achieved her a dream twice: after co-founding iRobot and ushering it to an IPO in 2005, Greiner left to create a second company, CyPhy Works, that builds flying robots. Greiner spoke at the RoboBusiness conference in Boston last week, and shared her views on some of the challenges facing the commercial drone industry. Chief among them: How do you grow while the Federal Aviation Administration continues to bully you out of the skiesRead More
Brand new bots
Local robotics startups debut at downtown showcase
Soft Robotics is making air-powered stretchy robot fingers whose grasp is not too hard and not too soft. (Image: Soft Robotics)
Two robotics startups from Greater Boston debuted products this week at the RoboBusiness conference and exhibition. Just a year old, Soft Robotics presented its gentle, air-powered versatile robot grippers in public for the first time. For Sonzia, a Somerville firm that incorporated in September, it was a first public demonstration of immersive, interactive environments for children with learning disabilities. Read More
Seeking robo-supremacy
Robot makers and tech trade group hope to create new workspace for robotics ventures
Vgo Communications makes a videoconferencing robot that is used by Audi at some of its service locations.
Robotics entrepreneurs may soon have their own special place for bot-building. A group of robotics companies, research-and-development labs, and the tech industry trade group Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council are working to create a shared workspace for fledgling robotics ventures, dubbed Mass Robotics. Plans could be announced as soon as mid-October. The space may be located at Alewife on the far fringe of Cambridge, but that's still up in the air, as is a target opening date. Read More
Keeping score
Do you believe Massachusetts tech is major league?
littleleague
I have started to worry that instead of being in the press box for a Major League Baseball game, all of us who observe and cover the Boston tech scene are instead sitting in the aluminum bleachers of a Little League match that will end with a 24-19 score, and all of the players getting a trophy. Read More
Still stealthy after all these years...
'Social robot' startup Jibo attracts new investors, preps for product launch
Still frame from Cynthia Breazeal's 2011 TED Talk about her research on "social robots" at the MIT Media Lab.
I've been following Jibo since last January, when I first told you the "social robot" startup had snagged some initial funding from Charles River Ventures. Now, Jibo founder Cynthia Breazeal has taken a leave from MIT's Media Lab to run the company. Jibo has brought on some additional investors, and begun hiring a handful of employees from companies like iRobot Corp. and Netflix. And a new placeholder website and Facebook page suggest an unveiling of the product is imminent. Read More
Acknowledged for Industry Leadership
Rethink Robotics' Rodney Brooks wins 'highest honor in robotics industry'
Baxter and Dr. Rodney Brooks
Today, Rethink Robotics founder Rodney Brooks will be among three robotics innovators to receive the prestigious Engelberger Robotics Award at the 45th International Symposium on Robotics (ISR 2014) which is also the 8th German Conference on Robotics (ROBOTIK 2014), in Munich, Germany. Read More
Robot futures
MIT conference looks at robotics breakthroughs — and big challenges ahead
Two of the "AlphaDog" robots made by Boston Dynamics, designed to carry equipment for the military. The Waltham company was acquired by Google last December.
Odds are good that no one at yesterday's "Computing the Future" symposium at MIT, organized to mark the 50th anniversary of computer science and artificial intelligence research at the school, imagined they'd be watching a black-and-white video clip of Julia Child deftly slicing potatoes. But Matt Mason of Carnegie Mellon University showed it to make a point: technology is still far behind humans when it comes to perceiving and interacting with the world. Mason and other speakers who focused on the robotics field emphasized how many problems remain to be solved. Perhaps the biggest laugh of yesterday morning's session came during another video clip, when the AlphaDog robot from Boston Dynamics, above, was pushed by an employee trying to test its stability — and promptly rolled over and smashed into a parked car. "That's the new guy's car," another employee noted. Read More