Dec 10, 2014 | By Simon

Since it was introduced in 2002, the Roomba floor cleaning robot has been both popular culture fascination as well as a toy for curious hackers and tinkerers.

Designed and manufactured by iRobot, the self-aware vacuum even has its own (unofficial) Twitter account, in addition to having a moment in the limelight on the popular AMC television show Breaking Bad.

But perhaps more importantly, aside from cleaning floors and terrorizing cats, the Roomba has been a phenomenal platform for STEM students and robotics hackers of all abilities to extend the capabilities of the device...including turning it into singing device, an environment mapper and a painting device, among a host of other creative projects.

Aiming to capitalize on this Roomba hacking craze, iRobot developed the cheaper iRobot Create in 2007, which replaced the original (and now unnecessary) vacuum cleaner hardware with a cargo bay that housed a DB-25 port that provided serial communication, digital input and output, analog input and output and an on-board electrical power supply.

Yesterday, iRobot announced that they were following up on the success of their original iRobot Create with the Create 2.

Similar to the original Create, the $200 Create 2 is specifically designed for students, hackers, developers and anybody else who wants a pre-built platform for testing their robotics design skills.

Based off of their latest Roomba 600 series vacuum, the Create 2 features a full arsenal of LEDs and sensors that are able to control everything from behaviors and movements to sounds.

Unlike some other robotics projects on the market, the Create 2 is ready right-out-of-the box, which may sound simple in theory but is extremely marketable for those with no previous experience with programming or robotics. Additionally, iRobot has already loaded up their website with a small collection of official Create 2 Projects to get new users up and running fast.

"Robots have a cool factor unlike any other learning tool," said iRobot CEO Colin Angle. "Create 2, with its online resources, reliable hardware born of the award winning Roomba, and ease of customization simply delivers more robot than anything available to students and educators at or near its price. We are so excited to be able to make this available to the educational community."

While the original Create was perfectly capable of including 3D printed part accessories, its release in 2007 was slightly before the boom of consumer-level 3D printers and services.

Aiming to tackle this new technological marvel, iRobot has even spearheaded the effort to expand the device with 3D printed accessories by including a 3D printable bin with modification instructions on their projects page to help ignite some ideas for what is possible with the platform. It should come with little surprise that iRobot is eager to see what kinds of other 3D printing-based projects that today's generation can come up with, too.

Whether you want to 3D print a telescoping support for hacking the Create 2 into your own personal butler that follows you around, or simply just want to see what is possible, it's hard to argue that the Create 2 just might prove to be more fun than the original Roomba.

Find out more over at iRobot.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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