The iRobot Roomba is not new; the floor-cleaning robot came out 11 years ago, but it is still considered a genius invention and wows people with its cleaning precision. But now iRobot is no longer just concerned with the robotics of the system, now they are revamping the cleaning features of the Roomba to improve its output. Before going into the new features, let’s take a look at the technology of the product, which has remained fairly unchanged with only minor updates throughout the years. The machine uses algorithms to clean in “crop circle patterns” based on the size of the room (S, M, L buttons on the robot) and also has algorithms to hug walls and furniture (1). The Roomba doesn’t exactly know if its cleaned the entire room or if its already cleaned a certain area, but using the algorithms makes the machine extremely precise. Also, the Roomba includes 3 systems of sensors that prevent it from falling down stairs (1).
Another feature of the Roomba is the Virtual Wall® that emits an infrared beam banning the robot from a particular area (2). This feature allows a user to keep the Roomba out of certain rooms they don’t want vacuumed. The Roomba also contains many other features that give convenience for the user. The Roomba automatically returns to its charging station when it is low on battery, can be set to clean on a schedule, and lights up to indicate when its bin is full (2). The user’s job is limited to setting the schedule of the Roomba’s cleaning and emptying the bin when it is full. Some models even include a remote that can program the Roomba from a far. However, with the older models of the Roomba had the user unblocking the robot when objects got stuck. In the new model, iRobot adds new technology to cut down even further on user maintenance.
The latest version of the Roomba, the 880, turns its new features away from robotics and towards the cleaning it preforms itself. The 880 contains new technology, called AeroForce Extractors, which look like regular vacuum rotors without the bristles (3). Instead the design features rubber bristles that grabs and brakes down dirt on the floor. Other improvements to the Roomba include an Airflow Accelerator that concentrates the vacuum power on the floor surface to bring in more debris and a more efficient motor that generates five times the air power as in previous models (2). Between the rotors, the airflow, and the motor; iRobot claims that the model is capable of picking up 50% more debris than older models (3). More importantly, as far as users are concerned, is the fact that the new rotors were designed to not allow hair to tangle as easily, which has been a key complain of previous models (3). This cuts down on user maintence as they don’t have to manual untangle the hair in the rotors.
Source 3 – http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/12/5094052/irobot-roomba-880-vacuum-cleaning-robot-announced-maintenance-free
Picture Source – http://www.robotreviews.com/pics/roomba560.gif