Sunday, December 23, 2007


Life imitates art: The land-mine sweeper

Does anyone remember Our Man in Havana? It's a British spoof on Cold War spying in which Alec Guinness, as a vacuum-cleaner salesman, convinces the British spy agency that he's acquired top-secret plans for a rocket launcher. But the plans turn out to be the schematics for one of the models in his vacuum cleaner line. The 1959 movie was filmed in Cuba, famous by then for Communists and the rhumba.

Now comes the iRobot Corporation fresh from winning a lawsuit against Robotic FX Corporation for patent infringment and "misappropriation" of trade secrets. As a result of their court victory they've been blessed with a $286 million contract to supply "bomb-disarming robots" to the U.S. Army—101 of them immediately.

If you want to know how the thing works, you might inspect one of the models in their vacuum cleaner line—say, the Roomba.


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