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Floor Vacuum Robot for $200 367

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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  • Why is it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:40PM (#4480051) Homepage
    That my Aibo can plug itself back in, but this thing can't? Seriously, how hard would it be to remember a room, vacuum it, and return to a docking station while I'm at work? What good is this thing *unless* it does that? I want my vacuuming to be sort of like setting up a maintainance cron job to run at 3 AM.
  • Good idea, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrgrey ( 319015 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:42PM (#4480084) Homepage Journal
    Roomba's walk isn't guaranteed to cover an entire floor, but in practice it does a very good job.

    So you only get the floor mostly clean. Seems like it could use some more work...
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:43PM (#4480103) Homepage Journal
    I love how they never test these in a real American Familys house. This thing wouldnt last a day around my kids.

    Legos, flash cards, marbles, mcdonalds toys, stuffed animals with fluffy parts, video games and controllers, dirty clothes.

    Now give me a robot that washs and folds clothes, and picks up kids toys, and I can use a Roomba. (And no Honey, you are not a Robot.)
  • Pre-Vacuum Pick-up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CutterDeke ( 531335 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:43PM (#4480109)
    I've got kids. Will Roomba do the pre-vacuum pick-up of all the Legos, money, etc.?

    My wife does a lot of sewing. How well can Roomba handle lots of thread on the floor? How about pins?

    The problem isn't the vacuuming. It's the picking up that you have to do before you can vacuum.

  • Re:Why is it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by atathert ( 127489 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:45PM (#4480119)
    Well, let me see. It could be because your Aibo is approximately an order of magnitude more expensive than this. To tell the truth, I am amazed at the functionality you can get for $200 dollars. I saw one of these things at Brookstone, and it just looks like it starts with a basic spiral pattern. It was demoed in the middle of the store, so I am not sure what happens when it gets to things like chair legs and such. Probably just senses them with the bump sensors, and shoots off on another direction.
  • It's too slow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Proc6 ( 518858 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @01:52PM (#4480193)
    The CEO interviewed says a 10x12 room takes 1/2 an hour to vaccuum. I can vaccuum my entire 1000 square foot apartment in about 3 minutes. It's just not that difficult. Id rather do it myself and be done in less than 5 minutes, than hear that thing's motor whirring and whining for 3 hours while it cleans every room in my house.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:04PM (#4480312)
    electrolux has had prototypes since 1997...

    see here [electrolux.se]
  • Re:Why is it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sylver Dragon ( 445237 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:09PM (#4480356) Journal
    For $200, I'd say that the trouble to plug it in each night, pull it out in the morning and press a button is fine. Assuming I don't buy one beforehand this is definetly on my christmas list.

  • Flat Earth Myth (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Red Weasel ( 166333 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:12PM (#4480387) Homepage
    The whole idea that the entire world thought that the earth was flat until Columbus came around is a total and complete fabrication.

    This story was invented by Washington Irving (yes the writer of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories) to show his contempt for the priesthood and for the conservative nature of the church and European nations. And guess what? It caught on and expanded to include everyone that lived before them.

    Lets all ignore the fact that every time there was an eclipse that the shadow was round or that sailors from around the world would loose site of land as they sailed or that a Greek mathematician calculated the circumference of the earth and was only 52 miles off.

    Jeffrey [ucsb.edu]
    Burton Russell
    Has a very short piece but he says it best with

    "A round earth appears at least as early as the sixth century BC with Pythagoras, who was followed by Aristotle, Euclid, and Aristarchus, among others in observing that the earth was a sphere. Although there were a few dissenters--Leukippos and Demokritos for example--by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans."

  • by PainKilleR-CE ( 597083 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @02:20PM (#4480450)
    And I can't just let the thing run all day at work, since the batteries only last 90 min! Guess I'll be vacuuming the old way for some time to come still....

    Let it loose in one room each day, then finish up the remaining rooms (if you have more than 5 rooms) on the weekend.
  • my house which measures in at about 2000 sq. ft,

    is that without kitchen sq footage? what about bathrooms? i know some homebuilders add in the garage to their sqft measurements, do you vacuum closets? pantry? the tiled entryway? i know some people vacuum anything, even if it isn't carpeted, but we only sweep the tiled parts of our apartment.

    probably not a whole lot knocked off there, and if you have enough furniture, i'm sure most people won't move the big heavy stuff to vacuum more than once or twice a year.
  • Re:Flat Earth Myth (Score:3, Insightful)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:40PM (#4481004) Homepage
    The whole idea that the entire world thought that the earth was flat until Columbus came around is a total and complete fabrication... by the time of Eratosthenes (3 c. BC), followed by Crates(2 c. BC), Strabo (3 c. BC), and Ptolemy (first c. AD), the sphericity of the earth was accepted by all educated Greeks and Romans."

    First off, Claudius Ptolemy lived in the second century, not the frst century.

    Second, Christianity is well known for destroying and suppressing knowledge. That's why they burned the library at Alexandria. Galileo was arraigned before the Catholic Inquisition and forced to recant his heretical view that the earth rotated, and also revolved around the sun. However, you are correct that the Greeks and Romans knew the Earth was round.

    My question is, when Columbus was ready to sail, did he sail from Greece, or did he sail from Spain, a country dominated by Catholicism?

    Read the Bible. The conception of the earth in Genesis 1 is that of a single continent in the shape of a flat circular disc. In addition, the Hebrews were influenced via the patriarchs by Mesopotamian concepts (due to their time in Egypt), and via Moses. Moses was, after all, "educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22; Exod 2:10). It is highly probable, therefore, that the writer and first readers of Genesis 1 defined the sea in the same way that all people in the ancient Near East did, namely, as a single circular body of water in the middle of which the flat earth-disc floated and from which all wells, springs and rivers derived their water.'

    It therefore all the more historically probable that the writer and readers of Genesis 1 thought of the earth as a single continent in the shape of a flat circular disc. The belief was that the earth is covered by a vault and that celestial bodies move inside this firmament. This makes sense only under the assumption that the earth is flat. This is reinforced in Genesis 1:6 and 1:7, and was commonly depicted in religious art, through the 1400s.

    If second grade serves me, I believe Columbus sailed in 1492.
  • by gravelpup ( 305775 ) <rockdog&gmail,com> on Friday October 18, 2002 @03:47PM (#4481046) Journal
    I watched the video clip in the article [msnbc.com], then you'll know what I mean.

    Yeah, the host was obviously Unclear On The Concept of what the Roomba was designed to do. He just put it down and expected it to seek out the mess and clean it up in a 30 second spot, and appeared frustrated when it didn't.

    Rather, this is one of those things you start up when you go off to work and you come home to a clean room. Much like the dishwasher. You shouldn't expect a lot of intelligence at a price point lower than most PDAs.

  • by Fjord ( 99230 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @04:26PM (#4481412) Homepage Journal
    The article makes reference to the fact that this is like the swimming pool vaccuums. I have a polaris for my pool and the path it takes is completely random, it isn't even smart enough to do things like and expanding circle, etc. However, after about 15-20 minutes it always has the pool completely cleaned. You'd be surprised at how well a random walk can cover an area. Plus, you really don't need to get every part of your floor 100% clean every time. If you do this every other day, you'll probably keep the floor clean enough that it won't show.
  • Re:Flat Earth Myth (Score:2, Insightful)

    by werfele ( 611119 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @05:17PM (#4481766)
    If you're suggesting that Columbus was radical in his belief that the world was round, that would be incorrect. His proposal to reach the East Indies by heading west was examined by the commission headed by Isabela's confessor, Hernando de Talavera, consisting of religious and scholarly leaders.

    Over the span of a couple of years, they decided to reject the plan because they concluded that Columbus had underestimated the distance, and that the actual distance was too far to be practical. They were correct on the first point, and wrong on the second only because of the unexpected presence of the Americas. Not even the religious leaders raised the idea the the plan would fail because the earth is flat. http://www2.worldbook.com/features/features.asp?fe ature=explorers&page=html/newworld_plan.html&direc t=yes [worldbook.com]

  • Re:Why is it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday October 18, 2002 @05:33PM (#4481880) Homepage
    So, if you want a robot that can plug itself back in (at least, one that can do so by remembering where it's docking station is), be prepared to spend a lot more than $200.

    Well, let's think different.

    We don't need a combat system here -- we're talking about one room. How about putting a blinking IR light on the docking station and a IR detector on the vacuum unit? Then program the vacuum to roll around until it "sees" the dock...

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.