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Learn science while hacking your Roomba

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Want a programmable robot of your very own that you can teach anything from playing your favorite songs to cleaning up after the party? iRobot says go ahead and hack your Roomba.

For the first time in seven years, the makers of the popular robotic vacuum cleaner have updated Create, a system that lets users program and modify a basic Roomba unit.

Designed with teachers and students of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in mind, Create 2 is a $199 modified version of the Roomba 600 Series.

It includes basic programming examples and starter projects which include “DJ Create 2,” a Bluetooth system that lets users turn their Roomba into a rolling DJ, and “LightBot,” which lets users create an LED light display.

Another hack called “CameraBot” lets users mount a camera and remotely view everything it sees from atop the rolling, round robot.

“As a global leader in robotics technology, iRobot believes its greatest social responsibility is to ignite students’ passion for STEM-related careers through the excitement of robots,” said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, in a written statement.

“Robots have a cool factor unlike any other learning tool. Create 2, with its online resources, reliable hardware born of the award-winning Roomba, and ease of customization simply delivers more robot than anything available to students and educators at or near its price.”

Create 2 also comes with files and instructions for creating new parts, including a cargo carrier, with a 3D printer and a drilling template to be used when adding pieces and parts to the unit.

Found by researchers at MIT, iRobot is the lead organizer and founder of National Robotics Week, which will be held April 4-12, 2015. The Create unit is part of a larger STEM outreach program by the company, which is headquartered in Bedford, Massachusetts.

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