New Roomba is a programmed cartographer- so it won’t bang into furniture

Since 2002, the Roomba has been every lazy homeowners answer to vacuuming- over 14 million have been sold. Yet a household robot vacuum had its drawbacks, most notably its incessant bumping into furniture and getting stuck in corners. Or it did until now.

IRobot announced on Wednesday the release of the new and improved Roomba 980 (starting price $899). What makes this new model such a big deal (and worth such a high price) is that it can be connected to the Internet, allowing you to start the device from anywhere or set a cleaning schedule with the simple push of a button on the smartphone app. Additionally, Wi-Fi access will allow the Roomba to map and remember your home.

“By combining iRobot’s iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology with new sensors, the Roomba 980 vacuum cleaning robot independently cleans an entire floor level in a home,” said iRobot in a statement.

The ‘visual localization’ technology of the new Roomba builds a map of the environment while it cleans and keeps track of where it has been so as to assure a complete and thorough cleaning. Moreover, it has the intelligence to know if it can fit through a tight passageway or if it should find another route.

The new Roomba may still miss spots on the first pass and have to double back in an order that seems illogical to a human observer. However, over time, the amount area missed will be less and less.

Moreover, the new Roomba is even better at detecting different surfaces- even the minute difference between a carpet and a rug.

A single charge lasts for about two hours. This may not be long enough for the little robot to climb under all of the chairs and tables. But in the event it runs out of battery half way through a job, the 980 will automatically return to its charging base to recharge before setting out once again to finish cleaning.

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