Yet another competitor of the iRobot Roomba has appeared, this time in the UK. This one is named the Robo Shine Turbo RX1. It would appear to have similar specs like the other robot vacuums we’ve discussed recently. It also has a UV light to kill bacteria on your floor, which seems to me like the most useless feature in the world. As you can see from the list, it also has a mop, remote control, virtual wall, and a side brush. The price is about US $300. I think that I’ll stick with an iRobot Roomba, still, thanks.
Here’s a list of what the Robo Shine Turbo RX1 comes with:
- Remote Controller
- Recharging Dock Station
- Virtual Wall Sensor
- Mop Holder
- Washable Mop Rag
- Side Brush
- Washable Filter
- Washable Cleaning Brush
- Mains Adapter
- Operating Manual
- 1 Year Warranty
A company known more for its computers, ASUS, has decided to come out with their own rival to the iRobot Roomba. It will be named the ECleaner, and will be sold in Taiwan and China. It is expected to sell for about half as much as most Roombas (about US $150).
The list of features very strongly resembles the 500 Series Roomba. It comes with a home base for charging, a bumper on the front, and a side brush. This robot vacuum cleaner will also come with a UV light for disinfection (which in my opinion is a waste of time and energy) and a slot for adding fragrances so that the vacuum spreads them around the room, which also sounds kind of hokey. On the plus side, the robot vacuum comes with a remote control, which is kind of a useless thing on automatic vacuum cleaners, but that I like because they’re fun.
On the minus side, the ECleaner will be taller than an iRobot Roomba. While the difference is about an inch, a Roomba is normally about three inches tall, so the difference is really quite large. Battery life is expected to be and hour and a half, which is comparable to Roombas with an APS battery. Also like the Roomba vacuum, the ASUS cleans more randomly using “behaviors” like running in spirals, wall-following, and going back and forth, depending on its mood.
It looks like the iRobot Roomba is going to have some more competition. A company named Neato Robotics has introduced their own robot, named the XV-11, due out in January 2010 (estimated price is US $399). The XV-11 robot vacuum resembles a Roomba in that it is short, but instead of being round, it has two square corners in the front of the robot. Neato explains that these make the robot more able to vacuum into corners.
While that’s the most obvious difference, it looks like there are others worth noting. The XV11 users lasers and a mapping technology known as SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) to create a map of any room before it starts to vacuum. The vacuum will start by circling the perimeter of a room to create a map. Large rooms are broken up into fifteen foot square areas. A laser on the top of the robot is used to identify walls, furniture, and doorways. Then the robot vacuum concentrates on path finding and obstacle avoidance. Once the initial map is made, the robot will start at one end of the room and methodically go back and forth across the room like it’s swimming laps to cover all the space. This is in contrast to the iRobot Roomba, which uses a few different “behavioral” algorithms to cover all the floorspace in a room, and which works in a more chaotic manner.
Unlike the Roomba vacuums, which use virtual walls and lighthouses to control how the robots go from room to room, the Neato can distinguish doorways. So you can set it in “Room Mode” and it will stay in one room. If you want it to clean the whole house, you set it to “House Mode” and it will go from room to room. The vacuum is designed to clean each room completely before moving on to the next.
Like a Roomba, the Neato XV11 can locate its charger and automatically charge. Some other features it shares with Roombas are: cliff detection, scheduling, a removable bin, and variable floor vacuuming. So it can vacuum linoleum, carpet, etc. The Neato robot is much more loud than the Roombas, which the company explains is due to the fact that the vacuum has more suction. The Neato vacuum also has a LCD display so you can see its status. Battery life is estimated at an hour.