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Visualized: a look inside iRobot's gadget-filled 'cool stuff room' (video)

Zach Honig

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We've all seen a Roomba at one point or another, be it picking up debris around our feet in a friend's living room or chauffeuring a courageous kitty for an entertaining clip on YouTube. Likely far less familiar, however, is iRobot's gadget-filled Massachusetts headquarters, including the museum-like "cool stuff room" in the lobby. There you'll find a large variety of autonomous devices, ranging from an early Roomba prototype that subs in a removable cloth for the vacuum to the relatively creepy My Real Baby -- an $89 doll that cries for food and offers realistic reactions to tickling. There's also plenty of industrial and military gear on hand, including a long cylindrical bot used for repairing oil rigs as they continue to operate, a full-size self-driving vehicle and a wall-climbing robot that uses suction cup wheels to ascend vertically. Some of the exhibits are downright creepy, such as a crab-like prototype which an iRobot employee referenced as being "inspired by nature," though the company's familiar household gadgets help to balance out the eerie. Sadly, the collection doesn't appear to be open to the public, though IEEE was granted a tour, which it graciously filmed for your enjoyment -- you'll find that video walkthrough just past the break.

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