I recently bought a Roomba (robot vacuum cleaner), and was interested to see an explicit statement from the company that makes them, iRobot, saying that the device is made specifically in a way that allows developers to modify it and do interesting things with it. The Roomba is genuinely a highly sophisticated device, and hacker types have been tinkering with them for a while now.
iRobot has apparently decided to run with that concept, and has now released a device based on the same platform, minus the vacuum cleaner and plus a highly modifiable chassis and programmable “brain”: the iRobot Create.
iRobot is interesting to me, as they are one of the forefront companies working to bring consumer robotics into the home as mainstream products. This is the first thing I’ve seen from them aimed squarely at hacker-types, but what they’ve really done here is created a true “HDK” — a serious “Hardware Development Kit” which clever inventers can build upon to create some very interesting products.
I think it is going to be interesting to see what people come up with for this thing.