iRobot launches new version of its Roomba-based educational Create robot

The iRobot Create 2, ready to be hacked

Seven years ago, iRobot unveiled the Create – an educational robot based around the platform of the company's existing Roomba vacuum-cleaning robot. Both robotics in general and the Roomba specifically have advanced since then, so it only makes sense that iRobot has now announced the Create 2.

The new robot has all the same LEDs, sensors, motors and processing hardware as the current Roomba 600 Series, plus it uses the same preprogrammed behaviors to move around the room.

It's also designed to be hackable, however. This means that students can add external tools such as cameras and grippers, via an integrated faceplate drilling template. They can also program it directly from a computer via a serial-to-USB cable, or by installing either an Arduino or Raspberry Pi microcontroller.

Users can additionally download 3D-printable files, which will allow them to create extra parts for the robot on their own 3D printer – these parts include a cargo-carrying tray, which replaces the Roomba's dust bin.

The new robot is part of iRobot's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program, which is aimed at K-12 school systems, universities and nonprofit organizations. That program includes instructional programming exercises for the robot, which will allow it to do things such as serving as "a roaming, robotic DJ" that plays music streamed by Bluetooth from a mobile device, or to be used as a "LightBot" in long-exposure light-painting photos.

Create 2 became available in the US as of Dec. 10, priced at US$200.

Source: iRobot via IEEE Spectrum

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