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Floor Vacuum Robot for $200 367

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the to-lazy-to-stand dept.
abhikhurana writes "MSNBC is running a review of Roomba, supposedly the first intelligent 'floor vac', as in a cross between vacuum cleaner and a robot. I think its especially suited for lazy bums like me. Just let it loose, sitback and enjoy. There is also a video of how it cleans the floors, which requires windows media player (what else?) to watch it. It seems that the robo cleaner can indeed do that job for which it has been designed. A related article on Techreview has slightly more details about how it works. There is also a website exclusively for Roomba."
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Floor Vacuum Robot for $200

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  • by rindeee (530084) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:42PM (#4480087)
    Actually my wife has one. It is worth every penny. I also have a robo-mow robotic lawnmower (made by Friendly Robotics) to take care-o-th-lawn. I think I paid about $300 for it. The vaccuuming is no biggie to me (since I usually never did it anyway), but the robomower has paid for itself many times over in the time I have saved. $500 total spent. Hundreds of hours saved already. That's pretty darn good ROI if you ask me. Of course for those who don't make a point of exercising, the robomow may be a death ticket.
  • in a local paper [newsday.com]. It said that the Roomba couldn't completely replace your standard vacumm. It doesn't do stairs, and it has no attachments for things like furniture upholstery, etc. The article basically said it was good if you lived in a small place such as an apartment or didn't have kids, but if you need to do heavy duty cleaning, the 'bot wasn't gonna repalce your standard vac.

  • by f97tosc (578893) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:51PM (#4480175)
    The only crappy thing is that it can't get the corners, which seems to be where all the dust accumulates, at least in my appartment

    I had the opportunity to listen to an explanation of a similar product made by a competitor.

    As you suggest, the robot does have a hard time reaching corners. However, when compared to a human operator, it was found that most people miss large patches when they do their vacuuming. It is just hard to remember exactly what areas have been covered (that and the constant urge of doing something more interesting). All in all, it was found that the robot covered a larger fraction of the floor, even if it did not reach all the corners.

    Tor
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:55PM (#4480214)
    http://www.epinions.com/Roomba_Intelligent_Sweeper _Vac_Vacuum_Cleaners/display_~reviews
  • by CSG_SurferDude (96615) <wedaa@w[ ]a.com ['eda' in gap]> on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:02PM (#4480286) Homepage Journal

    For those robot geeks among us who did NOT know, this is Rodney Brooks' company.

    Rodney A. Brooks is Director of the 230 person MIT [mit.edu] Artificial Intelligence Laboratory [slashdot.org], and is the Fujitsu Professor of Computer Science. He is also Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of iRobot Corp (Roomba) [irobot.com]

    He received degrees in pure mathematics from the Flinders University of South Australia and the Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1981.

    This guy is to robot-geeks what RMS is to Open-Source.

  • Who made it (Score:2, Informative)

    by alkatraz (617373) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:15PM (#4480413)
    I saw this on tv yesterday, and they mentioned that the original concept/design was made by Pentagon engineers!
  • by Erwin-42 (117944) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:24PM (#4480488) Homepage
    Here in Scandinavia, ElectroLux has commercially launched Trilobite which is similar -- it runs around finding the walls, uses ultrasound to detect obstacles and can find its way back to the base station when necessary. This happened about a year ago (November 2001) according to the press release dates.

    Trilobite is about 12000 DKK however, which is 1500 EUR.

    Here's the Danish website [electrolux.dk] with Flash demonstration and some information in English [electrolux.se] too.

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:25PM (#4480497) Homepage
    Then later you had UltraMan...
    Whadda mean, "later"? I was watching Ultraman [waynebrain.com] fight giant rubbery monsters long before Voltron, etc. came along.
  • Re:Why is it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrBlake (60544) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:59PM (#4480734)
    Electrolux of Sweden has a machine called Trilobyte that can recharge it self. See http://www.trilobite.electrolux.se/ [electrolux.se]. It is much more expensive though.
  • by rhwalker22 (581141) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:29PM (#4480936) Homepage
    ...maybe it was a month ago on washingtonpost.com [washingtonpost.com]. Cool picture too.
  • by iamchaos (572797) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:30PM (#4480944)
    And they almost work. It takes the little guy forever and sometimes he just gives up. Put him between two chairs and watch the confusion begin. It is a little loud and will get hung up quite a bit. Other than that it works great. Just keep an ear out for it to shut off and go see if it is done or gave up.

  • by rindeee (530084) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:32PM (#4480953)
    Untrue. I have my yard divided into 3 sections. All it requires is putting a wire around each section and moveing the transmitter to the section you want to mow (sufficient wire and extra connectors are included with the mower kit). I mow 1 section per day once a week. Takes about two minutes to hook up the transmitter and start the mower. I come home and it's done.
  • by rworne (538610) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:32PM (#4480957) Homepage
    You would hear it running all the time.

    They had one of these on demo at Brookstone in the local mall, and it made a hell of a racket.

    It sounded like a combo between a cheap motorized plastic toy and a hair dryer. I really hope for their sake the one I saw was busted somehow.

  • by androse (59759) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:33PM (#4480961) Homepage
    I remember seeing a demo of the Dyson DC06 at least 2 years ago, maybe more. The things were commercially available at the time.

    Check it out [dyson.co.uk] If you are looking for the grooviest vacuum cleaners out there, get a Dyson. Expensive, but worth it.

  • Just bought one... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jfinke (68409) on Friday October 18, 2002 @04:18PM (#4481343) Homepage
    I just bought one last weekend. It is pretty slick. It does what it claims to do. You can just let it go and return later and your room is clean. I have 3 cats and the amount of cat hair it picks up is pretty amazing.

    It manuevers around and under everything that is over 6" high. So, it can deal with coffee tables, chairs, beds, etc. It detects stairs and avoids them. It comes with a virtual wall unit (you can buy more), that sends out a signal the roomba won't cross. When I first got it, I put it is my main room. It has a TV, a large L shaped couch, and 2 litter boxes. The room is 20x10. I eat in front of the tv, so you can imagine all that crap. I ran it in there, and I was amazed at all the stuff if picked up.

    There are a few caveats, however. Battery life. You can only do "3 medium size rooms". My carpet is pretty thick, however. It is closer to 2 rooms. Plus, the time to charge the battery is 12 hours. You can buy spare batteries and a "quick charger", however, they are $60 bucks apiece. It is designed to do one room at a time, so you just can't put it up on the second floor and let it do everything. You have to put it into a room, close the door, and let it rip. It is not designed as a spot cleaner. If you have one really messy part of the room, you are better off getting your regular vacuum and vacumming that part of the room and then putting the roomba to work. The dirt collector is pretty small, so you have to empty it out after every room. Also, because of all the cat hair, I spend a lot of time cleaning the brushes and making sure the machine is clean. Unfortunately, it does not map out the room, so it may go over some areas that are not as high traffic as others, due to the algorithm that is uses.

    My girlfriend thought I was nuts for buying it. However, for $200 bucks, (the price a of a decent vacuum) it is pretty cool. Now, only if it would travel stairs, do multiple rooms, have a larger dirt container, and plug itself back in, it would be near perfect

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @04:38PM (#4481509)
    Ok, I've had one of these for a month now (SharperImage.com sent them out about 5 days before the official release). They are pretty cool.
    1. The one I have will run about 90 minutes or so on a combination carpet/tile floor.
    2. It follows both the walls, doors, and its "virtual walls" quite well.
    3. It makes "Carpet circles" all over the carpet. Mel Gibson will be making a movie about this some time I am sure.
    4. Amazingly it does a pretty good job of getting dirt and cat fur up.
    5. It doesn't fall down the stairs, has only gotten hung up 1 time in a month (Barbie's hair).
    6. It looks like a horseshoe crab moving around.

    It is pretty impressive. What it needs (they have them but not shipped) is an extra charger so that you can charge a battery while it is cleaning.

  • Re:Why is it... (Score:2, Informative)

    by CvD (94050) on Friday October 18, 2002 @05:02PM (#4481652) Homepage Journal
    I remember Dyson [dyson.com] had a prototype a couple years back, but I can't find it anywhere on their website. Google still remembers, though:



    Cheers,

    Costyn.

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