We just got a chance to meet iRobot's AVA
and talk to iRobot's CEO Colin Angle about his plans for this intriguing new bot. What we're looking at right now is basically a developer platform, or a "concept car" as Colin put it, showing off ideas for a consumer-facing bot with a lot more smarts than a Roomba, with hopes to attract developers who can extend its functionality. What wasn't clear to us before is that the tablet perched atop the bot can be any iPad or Android tablet -- not some first-party model by iRobot -- and the point of that is to let existing iPad and Android devs to develop apps using their regular tools that can control the bot through an API iRobot will give them access to. That means, unlike some robotic SDKs
out there, developers won't have to learn the ins and outs of robots before they build an app for the AVA, they just have to pass simple instructions to the bot which can be interpreted by iRobot's already impressive software. For instance, the robot can already drive itself around a building and map it entirely, so then a software dev would just have to pick a point on a map and send AVA on its way -- no complicated navigation work on the app dev's part. iRobot also sees potential for game devs, which is particularly interesting because they could combine two of the "hot" areas of current game development: Kinect-style motion controls and touch controls. It's all very exciting, we assure you, so we suggest you follow after the break and watch this video -- before we sic AVA on your ass.
iRobot AVA chills with us at CES