iRobot, the creators of the Roomba robotic vacuum, have released the "Create Platform" - basically a Roomba-like robot, without the vacuum cleaner portion, but with a communications interface allowing it to communicate with a PC or other device. iRobot decided to release the Create platform because it became aware of the growing community of users who hacked their Roomba vacuum cleaner.
Enthusiasts can write small scripts for the Create with a terminal program, and can also write larger programs for autonomous operation in either C or C++. The Create platform can also be controlled by Microsoft's Robotics Studio. All of the robots sensors and actuators are available through the Create's open interface; and users are free to use their imagination for mounting other sensors or devices on the Create platform. In order to encourage development, iRobot also launched a web site for Create platform users.
One of my brother in law's has a Roomba, and it does work - so I suspect this Create platform will be a hit. Heck, I may just buy one to play with!
The robotic fun starts at $130, and their biggest consumer kit is $300. Very cool.