Open-Source Robotics
By Michael V. Copeland

(Business 2.0) – Ever wish you could dispatch a robot to grab you a beer? That day might soon be here, thanks to an as-yet-unannounced decision by iRobot. In early July the company will post instructions for controlling its Roomba vacuum cleaner via the built-in serial port, so programmers can modify it however they want—from equipping it with a camera to, yes, adding an arm and training it to retrieve brewskis. iRobot hopes the move will foster the development of Roomba accessories—like the ecosystem of add-ons that has sprung up around the iPod—thus driving sales.

— MICHAEL V. COPELAND AND ERICK SCHONFELD