When robotic vacuum maker iRobot Corp. scooped up its smaller Pasadena rival, Evolution Robotics, last week it went dirty and down – market.

The $74 million acquisition gave the Bedford, Mass. robotic pioneer a broader product lineup that will help it sell less expensive self-propelled and intelligent vacuum cleaners as it seeks to reverse a decline in earnings.

IRobot’s flagship product is the Roomba, a robotic vacuum for carpet that retails for $300. Other iRobot models sell for even more. Evolution’s leading model is the Mint, which sweeps or washes hard floors using either wet or dry Swiffer cloths. It retails for just $200.

Brian Rittenbur, an analyst with CRT Capital Group in Nashville, Tenn., said iRobot’s management decided to get out of the low-price end of the market two years ago, increasing prices and taking their products out of big box retailers.

“With this acquisition, they are moving down to the middle or low end again,” he said. “They are having fantastic growth, but you can only sell so many upscale models. At some point, you need to broaden the market.”

In a conference call following the acquisition, iRobot Chief Executive Colin Angle said Evolution’s less expensive navigation technology was a major factor in the acquisition.

IRobot models’ navigation is controlled by button-like sensors on the edge of the vacuum. Evolution’s Mint uses a system of visual simultaneous localization and mapping, or vSlam, with infrared dots and cameras calculating its position. The vSlam system sounds more complicated but is cheaper to manufacture.

Angle also noted that vSlam is emerging as the dominant system for various types of robots.

Following the acquisition, the Evolution brand will be phased out and within a year all products will bear the iRobot name. Angle said the pool of potential customers for the two companies’ products have little overlap.

“We’ve got vacuums for scrubbing and now wet and dry for sweeping, which have their own independent customer sets,” he said. “We see this as very complementary and not as cannibalizing one business or the other.”

Evolution Robotics declined to comment for this story, referring questions to iRobot. Management at iRobot was not made available for comment but provided information via e-mail.

IRobot said it plans to keep the Pasadena office open as a research center, though it would not say whether it would reduce staff or move some of the 30 workers there.

For now, Paolo Pirjanian, Evolution’s chief executive, will join iRobot as chief technology officer and continue to work in Pasadena. Boards at both companies have approved the acquisition, which is expected to close this year.

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