iRobot acquired Root Robotics in June 2019 to boost its STEM offerings. And it’s certainly doing that today with the introduction of the iRobot Root rt0 coding robot. The iRobot Root rt0 ($129) is equipped with many of the same features and sensors as the original Root rt1, but it’s $70 less expensive. The iRobot Root rt0 is equipped with 20-plus sensors that allow it to drive, draw, detect touch, light up, play music, and more.
Like its predecessor, the Root rt0 is a two-wheeled, mobile robot designed for kids. It operates based on the coding commands kids give to it via the companion iRobot Coding App. The rt0 offers three levels of coding language – simple graphical blocks for young children to full-text coding for more advanced users.
The rt0 features an auto-level converter that translates code from one learning level to another. The robot’s Square programming framework was developed by a research team at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
“Coding has become a 21st century skill as fundamental to learning as reading, writing and math,” said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot. “Our vision is to provide a way for children of any skill-level, from pre-readers to experts, to learn to code. By offering two versions of Root – a lower-cost version for those seeking quality STEM robots at-home, and the original Root for more holistic in-classroom settings – iRobot can make learning to code more accessible to educators, students and parents.”
iRobot acquired Root Robotics in part because it was very familiar with its co-founder and CEO Zivthan Dubrovsky. He worked at iRobot from 2003-2009 as a program manager and senior product manager. Dubrovsky returned to iRobot as a General Manager.
iRobot Root Brick Top
iRobot also introduced the Root Brick Top accessory that lets users customize the look of the robot using building blocks. The photos below, for example, show a panda and alligator atop the robot. The Root Brick Top connects to the robot using integrated magnets and is compatible with a variety of common building blocks. It is sold separately for $19.99.
In addition to the existing iOS app and web-based apps on Chrome OS, Windows and macOS, a new Android version of the iRobot Coding platform is now available for download through the Google Play Store.
In April 2020, iRobot created a division called iRobot Education to house all of its education products and services under one roof. iRobot Education includes the Root coding robots, Create 2, the iRobot Coding platform, and the company’s STEM outreach program.