Colin Angle: Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of iRobot

As the CEO and Co-Founder of robotics giant iRobot, Angle has had an extraordinary degree of influence over the global personal robotics market

Alongside establishing (and driving the long-term success of) the personal robotics company iRobot, Colin Angle also previously worked at the National Aeronautical and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. There, he worked on the design of the rovers that, ultimately, led to Sojourner’s 1997 Mars exploration.

In short, Angle is one of the world’s leading influencers in robotics technologies. And, for more than 30 years, he has been at the forefront of this global industry and its extraordinary developments.  

iRobot, Roomba, and shaping the home robot market 

Three decades ago, Angle became one of the first-movers in the home robot industry. With the launch of the iconic floor-vacuuming robot, Roomba, his company, iRobot, marked one of the first steps in this transformative sector. 

Speaking in an interview with The Verge, Angle explained that the idea for Roomba came from remarkably pressing customer demand. 

“The idea came because everyone asked for it! I would literally introduce myself, and people wouldn’t say ‘good to meet you’ or ‘how are you’, but ‘When are you going to clean my floor?’ It was very predictable. And after a while, I would say back, ‘Well how much are you willing to pay?’ Because I didn’t know how to build a vacuum cleaner that was inexpensive.”

At the time, Angle and his team were already working with the cleaning giant S.C. Johnson, on a project to build new cleaning machines. 

“And when that project was winding down, there were a few employees – including Joe Jones – who said, ‘We have this idea: I think we finally know enough to build a consumer robot’. And I said, ‘Okay, here are some resources. Show me what you can do’.”

Fast forward three decades and the Roomba has not only sold over 40 million products across the world, but iRobot was acquired by Amazon in 2022 in a huge purchasing deal costing around $1.7bn. 

Sustainable robotics, and fostering the future of STEM education

Post-acquisition, Angle remains as iRobot’s CEO. Within this role – which he has held since co-founding the company in 1990 – he manages its strategic direction, and works with some of the world’s leading scientists, builders, and engineers. 

Angle describes the company’s long-standing mission as “designing and building toward a world where humans and robots work together for the benefit of all”. 

In the wider STEM field, Angle plays a key role in advancing education through robotics technologies. He assisted in the foundation of National Robotics Week in 2010, with the aim that “these events might inspire the next generation of builders, inventors, and problem solvers”.

To this aim, Angle is also the Chairman of the Board for the non-profit organisation Science from Scientists, which places scientists in the classroom and works to further improve STEM literacy amongst young people.  

Further exemplifying the positive impact that robotics can have on the world, Angle is also a Board Member and the Executive Chairman of RSE (Robots in Service of the Environment). This organisation develops robots that solve some of our most pressing environmental problems. For instance, the non-profit’s first initiative was the development of an undersea robot, which could help to mitigate the destruction that is being caused by the invasive lionfish species in the western Atlantic. 

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