Nearly everyone who's purchased one the 10 million-plus Roombas sold around the world has inevitably asked the same question: whatever happened to Rosie? For all its charms, iRobot's hockey puck-like floor cleaner will never compare to the Jetsons' sass-talking maid. We're living in an age of robots and we don't even know it. They're everywhere we look, but it's hard to recognize them after countless science fiction books and movies have hammered home the image of electronic mirrors of ourselves. In order to embrace a robotic future, however, many have scrapped the traditional notion of the android.
"Building robot versions of people is very expensive," explains iRobot co-founder and CEO Colin Angle. "The thing that iRobot had to do to become a legitimate business [was] take a great step away from the traditional notion of what a robot should be. Why should it be to vacuum that I need to build an upright person and give them a vacuum? Why not build the vacuum that can guide itself around, that can go under couches? You can make it radically less expensive."
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