Here we’re reviewing the Robot Add-Ons Soft Bumper accessory for the Roomba. The idea is simple but ingenious. Roombas have a bad habit of plowing into table legs, and sometimes don’t see wall corners. So depending on the shape of the furniture leg or baseboard, a robot cleaner can leave some marks behind. Also, the robot will make banging noises while vacuuming, which is kind of annoying (if you’re around when your robot vacuums). Enter Robot AddOns Ultra Soft Bumper for Roomba.
It’s designed to protect your furniture from wear and tear caused by your robot vacuum as it cleans your house. The manufacturer, Robot AddOns, is a company that was started by some engineers who had worked at iRobot. They have developed a handful of interesting inventions to improve the functionality of your robot vacuum cleaner. Mostly, these items are designed to be used with Roombas, but a few of them could probably be put to good use with some other robots. For example, this Soft Bumper would probably work well with the Neato Robotics robot vacuum. It would make a great accessory for a Roomba 780 or other 700 Series. No doubt it would also work with the iRobot Scooba, and other robotic vacuums made by LG, Karcher, and Samsung.
Installation is very easy. The bumper strip has adhesive on one side, so it’s as simple as applying tape to the bumper on your Roomba. Following the pictures in the instructional card that comes with the bumper, you set the Roomba on its back. Then start applying the Soft Bumper from one corner. Care needs to be taken so that you don’t cover the windows on the front of the robot. The windows have sensors behind them that detect walls and obstacles, so you don’t want to cover them. As a result, the tape should be applied with one edge along the bottom of the bumper. The instruction card also notes that the bumper tape might need to be trimmed on Roomba models other than the 500 Series.
Here’s a close-up view of the Soft Bumper. As you can see, the outer layer is like a brush. It’s really soft. The inner layer is high density foam rubber. The inner layer is a little more firm. The idea is that the brush part protects from scratching the surfaces of your furniture and walls, and the foam will cushion the bumper when it hits furniture. The adhesive used on the soft bumper seemed strong enough to me that I would expect it to last for the life of the robot.
This is your Roomba with a beard! Now it looks normal to me, but I have to confess that I thought it was kind of funny looking at first. I had to get used to it.
So how does it work? We have a winner! Besides making your robot vacuum more gentle on your furniture, the Robot Add Ons Soft Bumper does make the robot operate in a much more quiet way. To be fair, the newer model Roombas do their best to slow down before they hit furniture and walls, but sometimes they don’t see an item. To be honest, I don’t know why iRobot doesn’t start including something like this with all the robots they sell. I’ve read some reviews where people complain that it changed the behavior of their Roomba, or that the Roomba has trouble docking with the strip installed, but I haven’t noticed anything like that. My Roomba acts and cleans just like it did before, without the banging. It’s really awesome, and would make a great gift for the Roomba fan in your house.
Check these links to read reviews and/or order the products on Amazon. Besides the Ultra Soft Bumper for Roomba, there is also a new Dual Ultra Soft Bumper for Roomba. This one has a second soft strip that you put along the top of the Roomba bumper for even more protection.