It is safe to say that gone are the days, when working robots used to be a figment of imagination, from a realm of science fiction. The 21st Century sees, amongst its other developments, a combination of micro-chips and sensors, a miniature robot that can clean for busy house owners, their homes, spotless. So, yes, this article is on the affordable reality, that is Robot Vacuums, which make our day easier and labor, zilch.
Now that we know it makes our lives simpler, we need to know, if it’s a worthy investment, for which in turn, we need to know how it works. The robot-cleaner, has two main functions, navigation and cleaning. It navigates from room to room with the help of micro-sensors, which identify obstacles on the way and avoid bumping in to it. These are also called the “bump-eye” of the robot. The navigation circuitry not only identifies objects but also judges the distance between the robot and them and diverts its motion towards a different direction. They move well on hard flooring but transition and cleaning on to a softer base isn’t as effective.
Moving on to cleaning, a different set of sensors come into play, called “dirt sensors”, called so for obvious reasons. It senses dirt within a particular area (say, a room), and moves towards it and sucks it in. The cleaner lingers at the spot till all the dirt is gone. The cleaning brush aids the Vacuum to take in all the dirt and deposit it in a compartment of its body that contains the waste, in other words, it has its own dustbin, which needs to be cleaned at least once in 2 or 3 days after the dust collection reaches maximum. In most cleaners the motion path is initially an outward growing spiral and then tangential to it, thereby moving on to the next spot.
The design isn’t all that complicated either. This domestic robot is a flat, disk-shaped device that can go under the furniture and around its legs. So there’s no need to move sofas, stools, and low-set tables. It also features a bumper to absorb possible collision with a solid object along its way. A standard robot vacuum comprises of Cleaning brushes, Remote control(not in all cleaners), Rechargeable battery, Charging base or a charging adapter, Programming scheduler, to set the area of coverage (small, medium or large) and Virtual walls to keep robot vacuum out of certain areas or for better room to room cleaning.
The product is quite affordable and ranges from 100 to 900 USD, depending upon the brand, the kind/type you look for. Roomba by iRobot, Neato XV-11 by Neato Robotics, Cleanmate by Infinuvo , E-clean by Asus, Eurocleanz by EurekaForbes are a few examples of the cleaners available in the market.
Now, all of technology’s offspring have drawbacks.
- Although it can be left unattended for the most part, due its petite form, it can get stuck between two closely spaced furniture and really low set tables/TV stands.
- Recharge time is more than its working time.
- Doesn’t clean corners of the room successfully (esp disc shaped ones).
- It spews out the dust taken in, if not cleaned on a regular basis.
- If using a “dry” Robot Cleaner, water in its path can lead to shot circuits.
But somewhere along the line, the pros outweigh the cons, making this little mechanical pet, worthwhile.