Sunday, July 10, 2005

Scrum Influencers: Colin Angle, CEO of IRobot

Scrum origins include the work of Colin Angle. As an MIT student, he sublet space in 1990 at my Object Databases lab in Cambridge and had his early robots hunting me down in my office. I spent a lot of time understanding Rodney Brooks subsumption architecture and it affected the design of the first Scrum at Easel Corporation in 1993.

July 7, 2005, 4:00 AM PT
By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET

ACM News Service summarizes the CNET News interview with Colin: IRobot CEO and co-founder Colin Angle admits that the robotics industry is still young, and cites a U.N. report's prediction that the robot population will expand by a factor of seven between 2004 and 2007. IRobot was spun off from MIT, but Angle believes the company's future competitors will likely base their own products on iRobot platforms such as the Roomba automated vacuum cleaner. He says most of iRobot's military contracts focus on "decreasing the battlefield fog," noting that the PackBot and other devices are allowing soldiers to carry out dangerous missions, such as exploring caves for weapons, with less risk. The company is also a participant in the Future Combat Systems program, whose goal is to develop a mobile military unit that can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world and access all of the data collected by any element, human or machine, through a network. IRobot is also investigating swarming robot technology, and has successfully demonstrated a fleet of robots that can furnish a physical plan of their location through coordinated reconnaissance and communication. Angle thinks humanoid robots, though a fascinating area of study, have limited commercial appeal beyond the entertainment industry. For one thing, non-humanoid robots such as the PackBot can perform tasks such as climbing stairs far more rapidly and efficiently than humanoid machines. Angle predicts that interest in using robots as physical avatars will rise, noting that a group in iRobot is looking into how the Roomba could be used for applications such as user-controlled remote surveillance.


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