Advice From iRobot: Forget the Humanoid Look

The only successful domestic robots look nothing like humans.

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Speaking of robots, there are those who like arms and legs and those who don't. Japanese automakers who are demonstrating androids in Washington, D.C., say the machines must move like humans to exist in our homes, with all our stairs, furniture, and other obstacles.

But the only company to successfully sell robots into homes says no to appendages. "Forget the anthropomorphic features," says CEO Colin Angle of iRobot. His company has sold millions of the Roomba vacuum cleaners and Scooba moppers. They look more like round trilobites crawling on the floor than they do humans.

Arms and legs look good, but they're too expensive for the function they add, Angle says: "Humanoid robots are never going to be practical."