WTO Intellectual Property
U.S. company iRobot Corp. has received a patent for a system in which iRobot 510 PackBot with User Assist Package (UAP) autonomously returns to its operator in a failed wireless communications scenario with the help of a unique technology. The patent for this "retrotraverse" technology (U.S. Patent No. 8,108,092) is the 100th U.S. patent the company has received for its robotic technologies.
Retrotraverse technology, pioneered to keep troops out of harm's way, is applicable to networked and wireless robots in military, commercial, healthcare and household applications. Additional pending U.S. and international patent applications are expected to protect other critical semi-autonomous capabilities provided by the UAP.
On the same day iRobot was awarded the patent for 'retrotraverse', it was also awarded a patent covering sonar technologies for robotic telepresence, as exemplified by the iRobot Ava(TM) mobile robotics platform.
With growing technology commonality and software re-use, iRobot's patent portfolio is increasingly cross-platform, an 'economic moat' that lends sustained competitive advantage across product lines, including the company's home robots. Specifically, the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaning robot is covered by more than 30 U.S. patents. iRobot also holds 108 foreign patents and continues to pursue more than 250 patent applications pending worldwide. More than 7.5 million iRobot home robots have been sold, revolutionizing the way people clean their homes.
The company has also delivered more than 4,500 life-saving robots to military and civil defense forces worldwide.
According to Colin Angle, chairman and chief executive officer of iRobot, they have made significant investments to protect its intellectual property. iRobot has been both strategic and aggressive in filing U.S. and international patent applications relating to key product features and innovations, and it has entered into partnerships that allow for the cross-licensing of product portfolios as well. These steps are of prime importance for the corporation in maintaining their position as the leading publicly traded pure-play robotics company and in sustaining a long-term competitive advantage.
iRobot designs and builds robots. iRobot was founded in 1990 when Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists Colin Angle and Helen Greiner teamed up with their professor Dr. Rodney Brooks with the vision of making practical robots a reality.