Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

It is the year 2011, and I now have a robot maid. Alas, it does not have a sassy voice, and even though it comes in sexy black, it does not come with a french accent either. Mostly it just beeps, like robots from a long time ago, but occasionally it does speak in a feminine voice, but only to chide me. (“Error one. Please move Roomba to a new location and press the ‘clean’ button.”) It’s definitely not fast, and it’s not thorough, since there are some places too small for it to fit, but I do like that I don’t have to vacuum. My favorite thing it does is how it desperately tries to claw its way back to the charging station if you try to drag it away so you can work on it. That said, I still will be eagerly awaiting the commercial arrival of a Mahru-Z like bot.

Opening the box, I found this sticker on one of the plastic bags:

This robot contains an electronic and software interface that allows you to control or modify its behavior, and remotely monitor its sensors. For software programmers interested in giving Roomba new functionality, we encourage you to do so.

Because the functionality of iRobot Roomba can be changed by you or other third parties, usage of this Roomba is subject to the enclosed End User License Agreement. If you do not accept this agreement, please do not open this package. For more information, visit

Now that’s nice. More companies should take a pro-hacker stance. A “you assumed the risk” stance towards added functionality is great. If Igive them money, and don’t ask for support, then why should they care what I do? I’d love to be able to download a a more efficient floor covering algorithm to it, perhaps even have actually remember the shape of the rooms from run to run. Unfortunately, the hacking sites are filled with lameness like adding Knight Rider lights, and Maybe there’s a community of people doing useful things, but somehow I doubt it.