Amazon buys iRobot for $1.7 billion – TechCrunch

Amazon this morning Announce plans to acquire iRobot for a $1.7 billion all-cash deal. The home robotics company, best known for pioneering the robotic vacuum, was founded in 1990 by members of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT Colin Angel, Rodney Brooks, and Helen Greiner. Twelve years after its founding, the company introduced Roomba, a brand that has since become synonymous with the brand, with over 30 million units sold as of 2020.

Brooks and Greener went on to found and lead many other companies, while Angle remained in the CEO position – a position he would retain after the acquisition.

“Since we started iRobot, our team has been on a mission to create innovative, functional products that make customers’ lives easier, leading to inventions like Roomba and iRobot OS,” CEO Colin Angel said in a statement. “Amazon shares our passion for building thoughtful innovations that empower people to do more at home, and I can’t think of a better place for our team to continue our mission. I’m so excited to be part of Amazon and to see what we can build together for customers in the years to come.”

Amazon has also been aggressively dealing with the robotics field in the decade since it acquired Kiva Systems, although the Amazon Robotics division focuses solely on warehouse/playability. Most recently, the company made small strides at home with the launch of Astro, a flashy robot that lacks the solo focus of Roomba.

Colin Angel, CEO of iRobot, Image credits: (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

“We know that saving time is important, and that home chores take up valuable time that can be better spent doing something customers love,” Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon devices, said in the statement. “Over many years, the iRobot team has proven their ability to reinvent the way people clean with incredibly practical and innovative products – from cleaning whenever and wherever customers want while avoiding common household hurdles, to automatically emptying the collection box. Customers love iRobot products – and I’m excited To work with the iRobot team to devise ways to make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable.”

Amazon and iRobot have had an increasingly close partnership over the past several years, with Roomba embracing and using Alexa functionality. AWS Servers. Angle has also often talked about Roomba — and home robots in general — as a kind of connective tissue for a smart home. “The house of the future is a robot” Observed in an interview with TechCrunch. Vacuum cleaners and other appliances are the hands, eyes, and accessories of the home robot. In the end, this smart home of the future is not controlled by your cell phone. If you have 200 devices, you won’t turn them on by pulling out your cell phone. We need a house that programs itself, you just live in your house, and the house does the right thing based on an understanding of what’s going on.”

However, the company found it difficult to reclaim Roomba’s success — but not for lack of trying. I’ve tried many different home robot services, from cleaning gutters and pools to mopping floors and mowing the lawn. The latter arrived in the form of Terra, which has been suspended indefinitely during the pandemic. This news came In April 2020Beyond word, the company has laid off 70 employees, who make up about 5% of its global workforce.

Amazon Home Robot, Astro

During the Twitter Spaces last month, Angle told me regarding Terra’s recent launch, “What we said on the most recent call is that we’re working on robots that aren’t used for cleaning floors. Interpret that however you like.” Having Amazon’s vast resources behind it will undoubtedly accelerate its ability to launch systems other than Roomba. The company was built on experiences like this, too, building everything from baby dolls to military machines before hitting gold with Roomba.

The company separated from its military wing in 2016 as Endeavor, which was acquired by FLIR Systems in early 2019. A year ago, iRobot founded the Ava remote robotics company. iRobot made its own acquisitions, buying a connected air purifier company Aeris late last yearTrying to diversify its presence in the house.

Warehouse robots

Image credits: Amazon

Acquisition pending standard regulatory scrutiny. Companies will have to convince regulators – among other things – that they are maintaining appropriate privacy safeguards. Amazon’s acquisition of Ring has sparked all kinds of red flags For advocacy groups, owning the world’s most famous home robot will almost certainly raise eyebrows. Modern versions of Roomba have increasingly sophisticated sensors built in to build 3D maps of users’ homes.

The deal between biggest amazon During those particularly active moments for the giant retail company. It follows the recent huge deals of One Medical And the MGM. If closed, the acquisition could represent a watershed moment for home robots. For a decade, Roomba (and the army of robotic vacuums that followed) was the only truly mainstream household robot, with names like Anki, Jibo, and Kuri failing to reach mainstream consumers. With its acquisition of iRobot, Amazon is undoubtedly hoping to be able to do what it’s done for the home With industrial robots.

A decade after the acquisition of Kiva, Amazon Robotics is almost globally recognized As a warehouse and space for robots amid a pandemic fueled boom. Could his iRobot purchase do the same for the home?