Boston Buyers Club

The History of the iRobot Corporation

January 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

By Samuel Phineas Upham

iRobot really started in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, where three students were working on a new kind of robot. They took their ideas with them to form a company in 1990. Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner began their work in earnest with a DARPA research grant.

This initial financing led to the creation of the PackBot, which is still in use today. The military-grade robot was designed to venture into hazardous territories in order to protect human lives. It was one of the first robots to enter Fukushima after the disaster there, and several varities of the bot are in use in Iraq and Afghanistan. They handle everything from bomb disposal to first response. The Fido model even helps assist in bomb detection, able to both “sniff” out an explosive and disarm it through an advanced set of electronics and circuitry.

iRobot’s most popular product is without a doubt the Roomba. By 2004, the little disc-shaped bot had sold over one million units. This led to a public offering on the NASDAQ in 2005.

As of 2012, iRobot has sold far more consumer products. The military remains a large segment of its sales, but the company seems to be shifting toward consumer products. They recently purchased the company responsible for the “Mint” automated floor mopper, and currently offer the “Scooba” to wash floors automatically. iRobot also offers the “Create,” which is a fully customizable bot that encourages users to experiment with robotics in order to change the form or function of the bot.


Samuel Phineas Uphamis an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Samual Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.