iRobot lets you build your own

The Create is designed for entertainment and education

A waiter-bot fetching sodas from the fridge

What can robots do? Fetch beer, pick up socks and empower rodents.

At the Consumer Electronics Show this week, iRobot will publicly release its latest product, the Create, a programmable robot for entertainment and education. The base of the Create is similar to the Scooba, the company's mopping robot, and the vacuuming Roomba. It comes with wheels, motors for movement, and sensors that prevent it from tumbling downstairs or getting mired in corners.

Bot as minibillboard

The brushes and fluid tanks, however, have been removed and, instead, the Create comes with a series of connectors that let users attach reticulating arms, cameras and other devices. The idea is that people will devise their own tasks and write their own programs for it. Some of the add-ons can be purchased, but the company also expects people will craft their own peripherals.

Some people participating in early tests have made robots that can fetch drinks from the fridge, while others have put hamster balls on top to make bionic rodents. Another group in India made one that can make sand mandalas.

Hamster movements guide this bot.

"This isn't a toy or a plug-and-chug thing," co-founder Helen Grenier said in an interview. "It is programmable robot for students and robot enthusiasts."

The Create costs $130 and the logic board, for fancier programming, costs $60.

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