Posted by: robotnews | March 27, 2006

Home Vacuum cleaning robots

U0308030 PHUNG DUC KIEN

Introduction: Currently, there are many available home cleaning robots in the market. Each robot has its own strengths and weaknesses. I will give this exclusive chance to compare the products, to help the consumers differentiate between the robots and make their own choice.

I-robot Roomba

Roomba is currently the most popular cleaning robot
Price: Roomba Discovery: $249
Technology:
Using a front bumper sensor to detect obstacle
Dirt-detection: Using sound feedback. It is a very clever technology, when the dirt is sucked into the box, depends on the frequency of sound detected, the robot can interpret the dirt density. The robot can hear the dirt!!!

Automatically avoiding stairs, avoiding falling-off from high altitude using Infra-red sensors.
Home-base: When it’s done cleaning or runs low on a charge it will reliably return to the charging base if it’s in the same room.

Strengths: Dirt-detection, less noisy than conventional vacuum cleaner, good cleaning algorithm, can automatically return home to recharge

Weaknesses:
It will not be gently with your valuable furniture and pets because it will actual bump into them.
The robot has difficulty when cleaning on the carpet

Sharper Image eVac

Price: $199
Technology: Similar to Roomba
Strengths:
Cheaper than Roomba
Better cleaning power, thus noisier

Weaknesses:
It will not be gently with your valuable furniture and pets because it will actual bump into them.
The robot has difficulty when cleaning on the carpet
Very noisy as compared to Roomba
The robot doesn’t have a function to return to home base station

Applica Zoombot

Price: $99
Strengths:
Possibly the Cheapest Cleaning Robot available
Can avoid stairs but sometimes it is stuck which 1 wheel hanging in the air if we let it run on the table.

Weaknesses:
Run very slow
Poor functionalities
Bad cleaning power

Electrolux Trilobite

Price: $1,799

Technology: Using ultrasonar sensors to detect obstacles, so that the robot will not bump into your furniture. Thanks to these sensors, it can differentiate between the objects and your pets.

Magnets are everything to Trilobite: it uses magnetic strips for room containment, magnets in the base station that tell Trilobite where home is, and even magnets to hold the dust bin door shut. Electrolux warns that the vacuum may mistake a speaker lying on the floor for its base station since speakers use large magnets in their drivers. Trilobite took no interest in our large floor standing speakers, though.

Strengths: Trilobite has fantastic performance. It has excellent cleaning ability, especially with pets’ hair. It can clean nicely on carpet. It can go back the charging station when the batteries are running low. Trilobite has a user-friendly LCD.

Weaknesses: Very expensive. It is a high-end product after all.

Reference:
http://www.everydayrobots.com

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Responses

  1. u0205044 Yan Meixian

    I think the introduction of autonomous cleaning machines is especially useful for the elderly as well as pet-owners. The elderly won’t have to move around to clean the house while the pet-owners won’t have to worry about the pet’s fur causing breathing problems to their children. However, the machines introduced here seem to be of rather fixed shapes. Will there be any problem in reaching to corners? Maybe the technology can be combined with the snake-like robots.
    The detection of the dirt density is very interesting. But I am not very sure about why the machine needs to detect how dense the dirt is to clean it up?
    Overall, I think the vacuum cleaning robot is a good tool for the household if one is not too excessively meticulous about cleanliness.

  2. u0303505 Pham Dang Khoa

    This is a concrete example of how technology helps improve the quality of our life (hope that people won’t become lazier=))
    But I wonder if these vacuum cleaner robots is able to reach every part and every corner of the floor. If yes then it can really subsitute us to do the cleaning. If not then i think it’s only useful when we need to clean such areas as under the bed, tables…

  3. u0300510 Chen Yanchang

    The Roomba is the most popular cleaning robot among those mentioned. iRobot has actually sold 1.5 million of them so far. The makers of Roomba also expects the home and office robot markets to continue to grow.
    Although it is useful to compare the similar products before deciding the best choice of cleaning robot, it should also be useful to hear why the its own makers think Roomba is so succesful. They attribute it to the affordable cost(i.e. it’s not that expensive. Mid range among all the other robots) and easy to use user interface (i.e. just press “Clean” and the robot cleans figures out the dimension of the house for you).
    It is also interesting to note that iRobot is also coming out with Scooba which “can be described as an automated “robomop” that carries its own cleaning fluid and scrubs, washes, and dries hard floors. This should add a further dimension to automated household cleaning.

    Reference:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/BizTech/wtr_16503,309,p1.html

  4. I think these cleaning robots should be very popular to elderly and housewives because daily housework can be reduced. However, the price for these cleaning robots varies in a large range from 99 to 1799. People could have doubt on the reliability of those low-end products.

  5. U0307717 Chew Jian Qiang

    Well, the invention is good news for the lazy/very-busy homeowners. But I have a few doubts about its capabilities though.

    Does it clean the whole house, or does it randomly clean the house? The robot may miss out some spots that actually need cleaning. Lets say I accidentally dropped and crushed a cookie in the middle of the living room. Will the robot be able to move to that area, or will it just stay along the edges of the rooms, or even be unable to get out of the room it was docked in?

    And what if halfway while cleaning under your cabinet, it runs out of power and stops working? You’ll have to search your whole house for the machine!

    And if something gets stuck in its pipe while vacuuming, will it know what to do (cut the power such that the thing will drop down, move aside and continue?) I have many rugs at home, and sometimes when sheets of paper drop onto the floor. People who have vacuumed the floor before should know how to react when the vacuum sucks up something too big for its pipe. But the robot? I’m not sure.

    I’d rather invest in a good vacuum cleaner and vacuum the floor myself. Its good to have a little work-out sometimes. Unless you live in a 3 storey private housing. Then you’ll need more of these robots.

  6. u0300657 Yeo Choon Kwang
    It is interesting to notice that the shape of most of these robots are round. I understand that round shape is for safety reasons. However, it could also hinder the cleaning of the room such as corners. Could there be a vacuum robot of changable shape?

    I am also curious if two or more robots could share the same charger? If it does, would they queue up to be charged? I think it would be particularly interesting to see robots queueing up to be charged.

  7. U0307641 Low Youliang Freddy

    I believe this is the coming of a new wave of robots that are able to perform chores for humans. This is particularly helpful in the modern world where people are too busy in the day with their work and are too tired to clean their houses. With these new robots that can help to clean the house, people can save on hiring maids. Maybe the only problem in the development of these products is like what Pham Dang Khoa said, the problem with reaching every corner of the house. Perhaps if the technology is more advanced with more efficient algorithm being constructed, these products will become more popular.


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