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Alexa, meet Roomba: Amazon buys robotic vacuum maker iRobot for $1.7 billion

This illustration picture taken in Bretigny-sur-Orge on May 19, 2020 shows a sign with the company's logo at Amazon's center entrance as Amazon France partially reopens amid the pandemic.

Amazon's billion-dollar purchase of Roomba may see the company become even more involved in home smart technologies. Eric Piermont/Getty Images

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The company iRobot makes the robot vacuums known as Roombas. Amazon makes the robot smart assistant Alexa. Now, Amazon, which is a Marketplace underwriter, is buying iRobot for $1.7 billion.

Robin Murphy, a roboticist at Texas A&M, says with Amazon’s purchase of iRobot, “they’re getting this company with this proven track record of, of making robots work for normal people.”

She says that’s hard because robots like things to be predictable. People don’t fit that — pets, people’s houses, underwear on the floor, and other stuff don’t either.

Roombas have been dealing with underwear on the floor for 20 years now. The purchase represents a chance for Amazon to expand its presence in the home.

“So as a consumer purchases a smart speaker from a particular brand, we know that then they are more likely to purchase another device from that brand,” says Adam Wright with the market research firm IDC.

Amazon already sells a smart oven thermostat and security system, which are all sources of revenue and consumer data.

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