IRobot Founder to be Inducted into Women’s Technology Hall of Fame
We’ve all clapped robotically at some boring function or other. Now it’s time to clap for a roboticist.
Helen Greiner, chairman and co-founder of iRobot and a charismatic champion of a new generation of commercial and military robots, will be inducted into the Women in Technology International (WITI) Hall of Fame, the professional group announced today. Greiner is one of four 2007 inductees, and the only one from New England, who will be feted at WITI’s awards dinner in Santa Clara, CA, later this month.
In making its announcement, the group noted that Greiner “has invented and sponsored the innovation of technologies that help to improve the human condition.” That could well refer to vacuuming—since under her leadership, the Burlington, MA-based iRobot (NASDAQ: IRBT) has sold more than two million of its Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners. But it also refers to company’s Packbot tactical robots, used by the military for missions such as hunting for roadside bombs.
An MIT spinoff, iRobot was founded in 1990 as IS Robotics by Greiner, CEO Colin Angle, and chief technology officer Rod Brooks, who recently stepped down as Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Revenues for the first half of 2007 reached $86.5 million, up 19 percent from the $72.8 million reported for the same period last year.
Brooks, who is an Xconomist, says he remembers well the day Helen Greiner came under his tutelage. Here is his email: “When Helen switched from Mech E after her Bachelor’s degree to CS for her Master’s I was assigned as her registration officer signing off on her classes and giving her general academic advice. This was around 1989. Helen delights in telling people how bad at it I was….Except for Helen’s brief stint out at JPL right after graduating I’ve worked with her ever since. And now she gives me advice, but I think she’s good at it.”