The American manufacturer of robot vacuums buys Robopolis, a Lyon company developed by Bruno Bonnell. These robots are able to draw up a very precise map of the apartment in which they evolve, which will facilitate the development of the mainstream robotics but can pose privacy problems.
iRobot acquires Robopolis.
iRobot announced this last summer. It’s done. The American manufacturer of consumer robots has completed the acquisition of Robopolis, the leading European distributor of robots. The acquisition amounted to $ 141 million. The company was acquired in 2006 by Bruno Bonnell . The latter disengaged from the capital at the end of 2016 to devote himself to politics. He was elected deputy La République en Marche last June and affirms “no longer have any operational role in any company” since he is a deputy.
The operation was crucial for iRobot. Robopolis, present in eleven countries, prides itself on being the largest distributor of domestic robots in Europe. He also had the exclusive right to distribute iRobot products in seven countries. Most importantly, it accounted for nearly half of iRobot’s revenue in the Europe / Africa / Middle East region. Robopolis has an annual turnover of 127 million euros. After this acquisition, iRobot expects to realize approximately $ 850 million in sales in 2017.
The traditional vacuum cleaner is dead
iRobot is best known for its robot vacuum cleaners like the Roomba, a vacuum cleaner that moves alone in the house or apartment. “The traditional vacuum cleaner is dead,” says Colin Angle, general manager of iRobot passing through Paris, it is replaced by robots. However, this replacement is hardly visible in the professional world. “We are not present in hotels,” confesses Colin Angle. A housekeeper spends on average 4 minutes 30 to clean a room and 30 seconds to vacuum. We can not fight! For offices, the use of robots is more plausible, especially in the general directorates of large groups who want to avoid the presence of staff for reasons of confidentiality. It is still very exceptional.
The robot vacuum cleaners are equipped with a camera to identify the parts of the part to be cleaned and to be able to return to their base when they need to be recharged. In doing so, they collect data. The software that equips the new models is able to draw a precise map of the house or apartment in which it evolves. He knows whether he is in a room, in the living room or in a kitchen. “It is essential to have a precise map if we want domestic robotics to develop,” explains Colin Angle. If, for example, we want a robot to serve a glass of wine, he must know where the kitchen is, where the wine is and where the glasses are. “IRobot does not want to be just a vacuum cleaner manufacturer,
The robot will not sell personal data
This precise knowledge can also frighten consumers. Last July, Reuters reported that iRobot was considering selling the data collected by the robot vacuum cleaner. He knows the size of the apartment or the house, that of the rooms, the space between the furniture, the presence of toys on the floor … One can imagine the commercial use that could make of it Amazon. The assumption seemed all the less absurd that iRobot is now compatible with the Alexa voice recognition system from Amazon. “I can assure you that iRobot will never sell your data,” Colin Angle says, “robots must be trusted. No data will be shared without the user’s consent. These words can reassure. At least until the company is redeemed. According to Bloomberg, the Japanese SoftBank took a little less than 5% of the capital of iRobot. SoftBank has already acquired the French manufacturer Aldébaran (creator among others of Nao) and announced the acquisition of the robot manufacturer Boston Dynamics to Alphabet (Google).