iRobot revamps its robot vacuums’ brains with the launch of iRobot OS – The Verge

The robots are getting smarter. Two years after releasing iRobot Genius Home Intelligence, an AI-powered platform for its robot vacuums and mops, iRobot has announced its new software platform: iRobot OS. This operating system for its Roomba robot vacuum cleaners will take them to the next level, says Colin Angle CEO of iRobot, providing the household bots with a deeper understanding of your home and your habits, so they can clean both harder and smarter.

While at launch the iRobot OS is not immediately adding features to existing products, it is laying the foundation for a larger leap. “The idea of moving from the iRobot Genius to iRobot OS is a declaration that the intelligence of the robot is going to be the primary differentiator of robots in the home,” says Angle in an interview with The Verge. “iRobot OS currently offers more pet features, understands more voice commands, and can identify more objects than any other robot vacuum.” Earlier this year iRobot’s Genius 4.0 rollout added a half dozen new features to its Roomba robot vacuums and mops.

The barrier to the next level of AI in robotics isn’t better AI. It’s context.

In short, as competition in the robotic home cleaning space gets increasingly crowded, iRobot is saying its software is the reason to choose its products over competitors. The analogy Angle offered was the way someone might choose an iPhone over an Android phone or a Windows computer over a Mac, opting for the hardware whose accompanying software impresses them most.

Currently, iRobot Genius, now renamed iRobot OS, adds intelligent features to the company’s robots through the iRobot app, such as recommending additional cleaning schedules during pet shedding season and suggesting Keep Out zones when a robot runs into trouble spots. It also powers 600 Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice commands, and the ability to clean specific rooms and areas using voice.

Angle says the new OS will allow iRobot to develop a more complete understanding of the home and leverage that to extend to other areas of the smart home. While today the OS will run on the robots, Angle says it will soon run on other devices, too. That includes air purifiers from Aeris, a company iRobot purchased last year. “There is a cloud-based home understanding; we call it the home knowledge cloud. Other iRobot OS devices could have access to it, and through this shared understanding of the home, know how they’re supposed to operate,” says Angle.

The Aeris air 3-in-1 Pro air purifier alongside the Roomba j7 robot vacuum.

Image: iRobot

He explained that the air purifier could automatically know which room it was in using the iRobot OS cloud. “It would benefit from the knowledge that ‘I’m in the kitchen. It’s okay to make more noise. And there are a lot of sources of pollutants here.’ Compared to its role in a bedroom, which would be different.” He added that air purifiers, like robot vacuums, often get disabled by the user because they’re too noisy.

Angle says iRobot is working on allowing …….



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