Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

iRobot Is Planting the Seeds for Future Robotics Developers

By Steve Symington – Jun 20, 2019 at 3:48PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

And these Roots can grow deep.

Home-robotics specialist iRobot (IRBT -0.07%) knows all too well that, as its industry continues to grow, so too will demand for engineers who are willing and able to build the next generation of innovative products. To that end, on Thursday iRobot announced its acquisition of educational robot leader Root Robotics, known for its easy-to-use Root coding robot.

iRobot is no stranger to the acquisition scene. The company added its now-popular Braava line of floor-mopping robots -- previously known as Mint -- following its purchase of Evolution Robotics in late 2012. And less than two years ago, iRobot acquired its primary distributors in Europe and Japan, expanding its presence and giving it greater direct control of sales in both key geographies.

To be clear, this week's deal was relatively small; financial terms of the purchase weren't disclosed, and Root -- which retails for $199 -- isn't expected to substantially contribute to iRobot's top- or bottom-line results this year. Rather, iRobot is making a longer-term play to promote the field of robotics. 

Young female student drawing a line for iRobot's Root coding robot to follow on a whiteboard.

THE ROOT CODING ROBOT, IMAGE SOURCE: IROBOT.

"The acquisition of Root Robotics allows iRobot to broaden the impact of its STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] efforts with a commercially available, educational robotic platform already being used by educators, students and parents," stated iRobot chairman and CEO Colin Angle. "Root also helps increase the reach of iRobot's educational robot line by offering a proven system for people of all ages, including students in elementary school."

For perspective, iRobot has long sold programmable versions of its popular Roomba robotic vacuums, called the Create and Create 2, to educators, students, and software developers. But as a former software developer (and longtime Roomba enthusiast) myself, I can safely confirm their interfaces were still advanced enough to intimidate anyone without a rudimentary understanding of programming principles. 

By contrast, Root was designed to teach coding and problem-solving to kids as young as four years old using three unique levels of coding language, iRobot explains, ranging "from simple graphical blocks for young children to full text coding for more advanced users."

The slick two-wheeled robot can also be paired with the Root mobile companion app, enabling young developers to tell Root to do everything from drawing artwork to playing music, scanning colors, and even climbing magnetic whiteboard walls. While simple, these functions aren't a far cry from the industry-leading navigation, object detection, and scanning capabilities employed by iRobot's latest vacuuming, floor sweeping, and lawn-mowing robots.

And as if selling more than 25 million robots around the world the better part of the past two decades weren't enough, bringing Root Robotics under its wing should only help further cement iRobot's status as both an educator and central enabler of robotics technology in the coming years. That's something I think iRobot shareholders should be more than happy to support.

Steve Symington owns shares of iRobot. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends iRobot. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

iRobot Stock Quote
iRobot
IRBT
$57.47 (-0.07%) $0.04

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
327%
 
S&P 500 Returns
105%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/27/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.