updated 9/13/2006 9:12:49 PM ET 2006-09-14T01:12:49

IRobot Corp., the maker of dinner-plate-sized robots that vacuum carpets and scrub hard floors, is now venturing into the heavy-duty messes that accumulate on the rough concrete surfaces and thick carpets of garages and workshops.

The maker of consumer and military robots on Wednesday introduced the Dirt Dog Workshop Robot, expanding a lineup of cleaners that started with the Roomba vacuum four years ago and saw last year's introduction of Scooba, a robotic mop for hard floors.

Demand for a robot capable of picking up small nails, wood chips, material scraps and plain old dirt led the Burlington-based company to develop Dirt Dog, said Matt Palma, iRobot's vice president of sales and marketing.

"Consumers were asking for a more effective solution to cleaning up their garage or workshop than a typical push broom," Palma said.

At 13 inches in diameter and 4 inches high, the disc-shaped Dirt Dog closely resembles the Roomba and Scooba, but lacks a vacuum and Roomba's soft-bristled "flapper" swishing-action brush. Instead, Dirt Dog uses two counter-rotating stiff brushes that spin at nearly 1,000 revolutions per minute — much like a miniature street sweeper — to sweep debris into a bagless internal bin.

Dirt Dog's bin is about 40 percent larger than the receptacle on Roomba, iRobot's top-selling cleaner with 2 million sold.

The new product employs the same robotic and sensing technology that guides Roomba around a room, memorizes the layout and keeps it away from stairs. But Dirt Dog has a slightly larger front wheel to avoid getting snagged on garage floor obstacles.

IRobot is selling Dirt Dog for $130, less than the $150 to $330 price range for Roomba models, which come with a greater range of accessories.

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