The Morning After: Amazon buys the company behind Roomba robot vacuums

The company does like its robots.


Amazon made a $1.7 billion offer for iRobot, the company that makes Roomba robot vacuums, mops and other household robots. The deal will keep Colin Angle as iRobot's CEO but is still contingent on the approval of regulators and iRobot shareholders.

iRobot has an intriguing origin story. Founded in 1990 by MIT researchers, the company initially focused on military robots like PackBot. It marked a major turning point in 2002 when it unveiled the first Roomba — the debut robovac racked up sales of a million units by 2004. The company eventually bowed out of the military business in 2016.

There are many iRobot rivals now, including Anker's Eufy brand, Neato, Shark, even Dyson. But with the power of Amazon, iRobot should be able to dominate. Just think of the Prime Day deals! Some of Amazon’s own robots often look like Roombas already — like its first fully autonomous warehouse robot, Proteus.

— Mat Smith

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