Joe Jones stands in front of the world's largest Gantt chart!
MIT’s AI lab (iRobot is listed as one of their spin-off
companies). “Roomba was the first true robot, providing a
useful function at a price people could afford.”
Still, I wondered: why vacuuming, of all things? Heck, I
already have a vacuum. Thus was revealed a facet of Jones’
philosophy: Robots should take on chores that people don’t
like to do. “They can remove the attention necessity for us.”
The wisdom of this $200.00 vacuum-bot was that I didn’t
need to be on the scene to produce that clean carpet.
A 3-D model of the Roomba in Pro/ENGINEER.
Photo courtesy of PTC.
Roboteer Meets Marketeer
Engineers are notoriously divorced from the pressures
the Roomba wasn’t the idea itself, but minimizing the cost
to a point where consumers wouldn’t laugh. “People
know how much a vacuum costs,” he explained,
emphasizing that price drives the application, which, in turn,
drives the market. “So, we partnered with Hasbro to
get the cost down.” That and ingenious industrial (re)design
by manufacturers in China transformed Roomba from a
great CAD model to a candidate for the Home Shopping
but didn’t make it flap.
of product marketing, but Jones didn’t hesitate to get
familiar with the base concepts. The big challenge of
If I Only Had a Bigger Brain
With cost pressure weighing so heavily on
the final design, how could Jones produce anything more
than a toy? Herein lies the strength of a true roboticist —
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