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25 Days of Gadgets - Day 13

December 15, 2008 - Dave Hecei
The age of the Jetson’s has coming true. No, I’m not talking about flying cars, I am talking about cleaning robots. Robots have been around now for years, mostly as toys or as huge and expensive industrial tools. A few years ago a company called iRobot created the Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner. The new Roomba 410 Intelligent Floorvac robotic vacuum cleaner is priced under $150 and, surprisingly, it is a great vacuum cleaner.

The idea behind the Roomba is an automated, robot controlled, vacuum cleaner capable of vacuuming on carpets (low to medium plush) and hard floors without any human intervention. The robot brain maps out the room and navigates around chairs and other furniture. Its very low profile and round shape allows it to maneuver quickly around a room and under places that a regular vacuum might have problems with. It does all this without any supervision and without any power cords, the on board battery should have enough power to do two good-sized rooms.

The Roomba 410 is their moderately priced home model; the Roomba 400 is the base model. The 410 is very intelligent. Just hit the ‘clean’ button and the 410 will sense the size of the room and adjust itself automatically to the type of floor it is cleaning. There is even a sensor inside that knows when it is running over a spot that has more dirt and will increase the amount of cleaning in that area. The 410 can sense the furniture and other obstructions and can follow walls and corners. Another sensor is built in to keep it from falling down stairs. They call it a cliff sensor.

The 410 has a three-stage cleaning system. There is the vacuum for picking up dust and small particles, the counter rotating brushes that pick up debris and pet hair, and edge brushes that clean along walls. The 410 even has the ability to know when it is stuck and runs an escape routine to extract itself.

For the ultimate in automation, the 410 has an optional self-charging station. With this station, you can set the Roomba on its task and when it is done, or when the battery gets too low, it will automatically return to the charging station and dock itself.

The idea of an automated robotic vacuum cleaner was science fiction not too many years ago. The Roomba is here today, it is fully automatic, and it really does a great job cleaning your home for you.


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