The Spikiest Time of the Year Is No Problem for iRobot and AWS IoT

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Christmas is a big day—make that a huge day—for nearly all consumer brands, including iRobot and its Roomba robotic vacuums.

"Roomba robot vacuums are popular gifts on any holiday, but Christmas Day is when the most Roombas get sent on their first cleaning missions, all at once," says Ben Kehoe, a cloud robotics research scientist at iRobot. "Because Roomba robot vacuums are internet-connected, Christmas Day means huge traffic spikes for us."

Huge traffic spikes could also mean huge headaches for the company and its customers alike, but not in this case. That’s because iRobot runs its customer-facing iRobot HOME app and its robots' IoT backend on a serverless Amazon Web Services (AWS) architecture.

iRobot is Enabling the Next Generation of Connected Homes with a Serverless Architecture on AWS
  • About iRobot
  • Benefits
  • AWS Services Used
  • About iRobot
  • iRobot, a leading global consumer robot company, designs and builds robots that empower people to do more both inside and outside the home. The company’s engineers are building an ecosystem of robots and data to enable the smart home.

  • Benefits
    • Minimal response team on Christmas Day
    • 20x traffic spike was a non-event
    • Spent December preparing to ship in January
  • AWS Services Used

Unwrapping Roombas

After a new Roomba robot vacuum emerges from its wrapping paper and is powered up, the device connects to AWS IoT Core, a managed cloud service that enables billions of connected devices to interact easily and securely with cloud applications and other devices.

iRobot’s backend IoT solution also uses AWS Lambda, a serverless service that runs code in response to events; Amazon API Gateway, a fully managed service for publishing and securing APIs at any scale; and Amazon DynamoDB, a fully managed, multi-region, multi-master database. The newly activated Roomba uses the AWS IoT device shadow to share its current device state, such as cleaning status and schedule. Then the HOME app connects, and Amazon Kinesis starts ingesting real-time data streams from the robot. Seconds after making that first API call, the Roomba robot vacuum is "off to the races," as Kehoe puts it, ready for its first cleaning mission.

Productive Decembers

"We had a great fourth quarter and knew Christmas Day would see a huge number of new robots coming online," says Kehoe. Even so, iRobot's Christmas-morning response team numbered in the single digits.

"As it turned out, the only thing we needed to do this year was increase shards on the Kinesis stream to our data lake as fleet size increased," says Kehoe. "Traffic spiked by at least 20 times, but because of the simple scalability of a serverless AWS architecture, it was a non-event. With a traditional architecture, it would have been all hands on deck."

Kehoe explains that the benefits of an architecture that can easily handle such large spikes extend well beyond a relaxed Christmas Day. "Because of our AWS IoT Core backend and serverless AWS architecture, we spend December focused on what will ship in January and beyond, not planning for scaling and performance on Christmas morning.”

iRobot's Architecture

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Learn More

To learn more, visit aws.amazon.com/iot.