If your household is one of the estimated 2.75 million that “employ” a Roomba cleaning robot, you know all about the benefits of an autonomous robot helping out with things around the house.  And chances are, if you are one of these households and also have a dog or a cat, you have seen some interesting pet behavior during cleaning sessions.

The company that popularized these cleaning machines is at it again.  iRobot today announced a new mid-level household robot at the Google I/O show in San Francisco.  The company is taking a new tact with this mid-level class of service robots.  Rather than having all iRobot-supplied and supported hardware and software, the new robot called the AVA, employs a tablet for it’s “brain.”  At the Google show, iRobot showed off the AVA using the Android-powered Motorola Xoom tablet.  They have also recently demonstrated that it works just as well with the iPad.

The tablet functions not only as the brain and central processing unit, but also as the robot’s eyes and ears.  By using the built in camera(s) and microphone, the robot is able to respond to the environment that it is working in.  Amazingly enough, the robot can move around the house at around two yards per second, yet still avoid a person jumping in front of it.

At present, iRobot is simply introducing the robot to the market, mainly targeting developers of software and engineers who can take the powerful platform they have developed and make a successful consumer robot.  Time will tell if the AVA is as successful as the Roomba.