Thursday, January 07, 2010

A robotic floor cleaner that could actually work

Being the tech geek that I am I of course had to get a Roomba when they first came out. It was a fun little toy, but not really practical. It missed a lot of dirt, it was noisy, and it took a looooong time to get the job done. And when it was finally done, emptying the dustpan was a messy chore, almost worse than having to clean the floor yourself.

Now, Evolution Robotics has announced a next-generation robotic floor cleaner called the Mint. Unlike the Roomba, the Mint uses Swiffer pads instead of a vacuum, so it should be a lot quieter and easier to clean up afterwards. Also, it cleans systematically instead of randomly, so it should do a much better job. It remains to be seen if the beacon that the Mint uses for navigation is really robust (does the signal penetrate walls?) but otherwise it looks very promising.

The Mint will be available, I am told, in June.


Greg Pfeil said...

The Mint is only for hard surface floors, so it's more a competitor to the Scooba than the Roomba. It does seem like the Mint may be awesome – and I'm keeping my eye on it – but for someone in the market for a Roomba, the Mint is not an option (personally, I'm done with carpets).

Ron said...

Hm, good point. We only ever ran our Roomba on hardwood. I suppose you could run it on carpet, but the Roomba's poor little battery-powered vacuum is woefully underpowered for carpets. (It's barely adequate for hardwood.)

Anonymous said...

I've had a couple of cheap Roomba clones (the real ones are $800 here in Japan!) for a couple of years now.

They work fine on the very low-pile commercial carpet we have at our office.

The noise and slowness hasn't been an issue, since I kick them off just before I leave my home or office. They still don't do a great job in the corners and cracks, but that's more to do with the size and shape of the device itself than having intelligence or not.

Emptying them hasn't been an issue for me; it's no worse than emptying a regular vacuum cleaner.

The main issue for me has been battery life: the batteries die after a year or so, and cost about $80 to replace.

So the new one doesn't seem to offer much in the way of an advantage. It may even be at a disadvantage in that the mop may end up pushing dust around instead of actually taking it away, as a vacuum does.

What I'm really waiting for is a small, intelligent baloon or helicopter device that can dust my shelves and the items on them. I suspect that this is some time away.