Reports indicate that Amazon has acquired iRobot, makers of the popular robot-vacuum Roomba, for a total of $1.7 billion.
The Roborock S7+ is the company’s latest robotic vacuum. It’s an improved version of its previous model that adds sonic mopping capabilities.
ZDNet interviewed Pieter Abbeel, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. He says a major revolution is coming thanks to machine vision.
Giving robots the gift of sight completely changes what’s possible. Computer Vision, the area of AI concerned with making computers and robots see, has undergone a night-and-day transformation over the past 5-10 years — thanks to Deep Learning. Deep Learning trains large neural networks (based on examples) to do pattern recognition, in this case pattern recognition enabling understanding of what’s where in images. And then Deep Learning, of course, is providing capabilities beyond seeing.
Dyson is working on its next robotic vacuum and an FCC filing reveals the details, such as new brushless motors.
Branding on the device suggests it will also use Dyson’s new Hyperdymium motors. This is simply Dyson’s name for its latest brushless electric motors, which have appeared in its most recent stick vacuums. It also looks like you can remove part of the internal tubing (picture 4 below) that connects the bin to the brushes. That would be a neat upgrade, as the 360 Heurist had a tendency to clog when vacuuming piles of large debris.
A few weeks ago Andrew bought iRobot’s Braava jet m6 robotic mopper. This is the company’s top-of-the-line model available for US$449.99.
Tomorrow I’ll be publishing a review of an iRobot robot mop that I bought a few weeks ago. But today the company announced a new product, the j7+ robot vacuum.
Dozens of gradual improvements have resulted in the current operating system, the iRobot Genius 3.0. This system brings never-before-seen levels of A.I. personalization and control to robot vacuums. The system utilizes your phone’s location services to begin cleaning when you leave home and stop when you come home, ensuring a clean floor at all times.
Unlike the previous two videos, which showed one-off tricks, the new video shows Atlas doing an entire obstacle course in one go, which the company says helps with reliability and repeatability. Trying to get through a whole obstacle course leads to a lot of failures and helps the hardware and software teams track down what “strategic upgrades” need to be made to help the robot get through the course.
Artist Diemut Strebe built a praying robot “to explore the possibilities of an approximation to celestial and numinous entities by performing a potentially never-ending chain of religious routines and devotional attempts for communication through a self-learning software.” The production is a collaboration with Regina Barzilay, Tianxiao Shen, Enrico Santus, all MIT CSAIL, Amazon Polly, Bill and Will Sturgeon, Elchanan Mossel, MIT, Stefan Strauss, Chris Fitch, Brian Kane, Keith Welsh, Webster University, Matthew Azevedo. “Wretched sinner unit! The path to robot heaven lies here… in the Good Book 3.0.” ―Lionel Preacherbot
I’ve been a fan of Raspberry Pi for years. This tiny computer can do so much with such a tiny footprint. It can be your desktop computer, a classic arcade game, or whatever you dream up. The board even features a general purpose input/ouput (GPIO) header. This allows you to incorporate electronics components, like sensors, LED lighting, motors and servos. Hobbyists have used the Raspberry Pi in robotics applications almost from day one. This latest product, though, takes the hobby to another level. It’s the pi-top  robotics kit, and it allows makers to develop just about anything they can imagine. It’s programmable in Python, .NET, and more. You can program your robot or drone to avoid obstacles, recognize lines and objects, respond to gestures, racognize faces, and more. The pi-top  Complete Kit includes everything you need to get started. You’ll get the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, the pi-top case, and enough electronic components to really get your feet wet. For construction of your robot or drone, the pi-top and included metal plate work with LEGO and Meccano, as well as things you make from raw materials or repurposed objects.
Roborock sent Andrew the Roborock S6 MaxV which is a vacuum and mop combined. He shares his thoughts in his review.