iRobot’s New Roomba Is A Cartographer And Has Its personal App (eventually)

transfer over, Lewis and Clark. iRobot’s new Roomba vacuum cleaner is a cartographer.

September 16, 2015

in the beginning glance, it might appear a little bit underwhelming to the vacuumers of the sector that the latest product from iRobot, the Roomba 980, boasts interior mapping as a key new characteristic. however it’s this sort of jump ahead that CEO and cofounder Colin angle inspires Lewis and Clark when discussing the success.

it can be an issue iRobot has been seeking to resolve for a decade, and angle said this edition is the largest bounce forward for them for the reason that first Roomba, which used to be presented in 2002. the ability to map lets in the Roomba 980 to avoid extra limitations, smooth a house more efficiently—assume parallel lines—and recharge itself without beginning the room over.

“so as to create robots that truly remember where they’re and what they’re doing, we needed to solve the localization drawback,” attitude mentioned after an iRobot press event Wednesday. “we would have liked as a way to map. That’s why the point about Lewis and Clark was once that when there were maps, the rest was once straightforward.”

angle stated that robotics had been caught for decades with quite a lot of ideas and a whole lot of promise but no maps, and that has been one of the industry’s biggest challenges. Take, for example, a sunny day. the new Roomba uses a digicam to map—however that digital camera can also be rendered unnecessary by means of an excessive amount of or too little gentle.

“You seem out into the solar and you’re blind,” he mentioned. “smartly, the robot’s blind too. You flip down the lights and you’ve got to fall again on other sensors to know the place you might be and where you’re going and, yet, it still has to work. proper? sensible robots can’t develop into pointless since the solar is shining in a window.”

the solution iRobot found is to layer new sensors so the Roomba can depend on one thing else if, say, it’s too shiny out of doors and the camera isn’t effective. They name this “visual simultaneous localization and mapping” (vSLAM®). And people work a lot the same way, attitude said. When humans can’t see smartly, they fall back on things like listening to, touch, and reminiscence. the brand new Roomba can “hear” when it’s discovered extra grime with an acoustic sensor.

The Roomba 980, which matches on sale Thursday for $899, is iRobot’s first client IoT product. the corporate has finally delivered a cloud-connected app, which allows you to tell the Roomba 980 to scrub your home when you are at work or on the go. The app additionally lets you time table common cleanings.

This new Roomba prices about 10 occasions the associated fee of a vacuum you’d have to push by using hand (like Rosie the robotic maid did on The Jetsons). Rosie has been a long-time proposal for attitude, who says it could no longer have taken so long for a Roomba that would make maps to hit the market if price had not been an element.

“nobody is going to pay $50,000 to wash their ground,” attitude says. “at least no longer many people.”

This post has been updated with extra details and rates concerning the new product.

[Photos: courtesy of iRobot]

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