Six Degrees of the Roomba
As we all may have noticed at some point there is a list of references cited adorning the face of every US patent. Utilizing these lists of references cited, patents can be connected to other patents through the references cited on their own face, as well as the instances where the patent is cited on a subsequent patent’s face. By connecting patents in this manner a network begins to form and begs the question: How many steps would it take to connect any patent with any other patent?
So, starting with any patent where would we find ourselves after 6 steps through the references cited network? Today our search dives into a fantasy world where everyone goes home and kicks up their feet while compliant robots take care of the boring housework.
Start: US 7,024,278 B2, the navigational control system for the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner
First Degree: US 7,837,958 B2, a combination mobile air purifier and surface cleaner
Second Degree: US 6,099,091 A, a traction enhanced wheel with suction cups
Third Degree: US 7,280,890 B2, a surface clinging robot with a plurality of suction cups
Fourth Degree: US 5,490,646 A, an aircraft maintenance robot
Fifth Degree: US 5,180,122 A, an apparatus an method for detecting the presence of ice on a surface and deicing
Sixth Degree: US 7,694,502 B2, a small scale tomato harvester
So there you have it, in 6 steps you can connect the robot vacuum with its tomato picking cousin. While this journey represents one connection path for the Roomba patent, feel free to follow your own path of patent connection intrigue and share it in the comments section below.
Have a suggestion for an inventor or invention you would like to see in the Six Degrees post? Share that in the comments too!