Archive for Robotics

Helen Greiner: Inventor of the First Robotic Vacuum

Helen Greiner is the c0-founder of iRobot, which she helped to start as a result of her interest in robots. Greiner’s enthusiasm for these intriguing machines came from her fondness for R2-D2 in Star Wars and her desire to create something between a robot and a computer, similar to the one that her dad would bring home from work (shown below).

The idea, in Greiner’s mind, was to create something that would, more or less, have a mind of its own. iRobot’s first  success was a talking doll. After that, the company started working on a vacuum cleaner with SC Johnson Professional. The vacuum was a human sized robot that ran by itself, but the engineers understood that it would potentially be too dangerous at its current size. As a result they focused on building a smaller vacuum that would be more efficient. During this time, iRobot also aided in creating robots that would detect and defuse bombs, building contracts with the military for hundreds of millions of dollars. Since then, iRobot has engaged in other advancements in the robot industry, such as drones. Ms. Greiner helped start CyPhy Works, a drone specific company. CyPhy Works builds drones mostly for military and industrial use.  One example is the testing Greiner did with UPS for delivering packages. It was very successful.

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