Home-cleaning robot manufacturer iRobot announced today that it has acquired one of its key competitors, Evolution Robotics, for $74 million. Evolution Robotics is the maker of the Mint floor cleaning robots.
The acquisition means that the largest company in personal and home robotics, which has already sold over 6 million Roombas, is growing even bigger. And it’s acquiring some key technology it lacks.
Mint does a few things Roomba does not. First of all, it specializes in hard surfaces, dusting and then damp-cleaning floors better than a Roomba. Second, Mint has a repeat revenue business with name-brand cleaning cloths such as Swiffer. Third, and probably most important, Mint has better technology for navigating — via what the company calls “indoor GPS,” or NorthStar Navigation.
As anyone who has one knows, Roomba navigation can be a little head-scratching. In fact, Mint used that in, essentially, an attack ad on the market leader … which could be a little embarrassing now:
In a statement, iRobot chief executive Colin Angle said that the company would use its large sales and distribution network to expand sales of Mint products, which suggests that the Mint brand will remain, at least for some time.
Evolution Robotics’ current CEO will be joining iRobot as chief technical officer.
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