Wow. Today at CES, iRobot introduced a new robot platform. I've already ordered one and I'm going to use it with Microsoft Robotics Studio to see what I can do.
Anyway, it's called the "iRobot Create." It's basically their standard Roomba style robot, without any of the cleaning features. Instead, it includes a "port" that you can hook up your own creations too. It even has a very large space where you can mount your own custom stuff.
They've also released a "Command Module" that plugs into the Create that allows you to program it and run it autonamously. Very cool.
If, in the future, we want to demo these for the Acedemic events, we can get them for $1000 for 10. (Without the control module, which, I think I can build for $20 or so.)
I bought mine directly from their site. If you do, you can buy the "bundle" for $179 which incldues the create robot and the control module (free shipping.) If you then check out with, ack... Google Checkout, you get $10 off that price.
Here's C|Net's News.com.com.com.com article on it: http://news.com.com/Build+your+own+bot%2C+courtesy+of+iRobot/2100-1041_3-6147573.html?tag=nefd.top
And Here's iRobot's site: http://store.irobot.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=2591511&cp=2600059