Robot Hot Rod: Souping up my Mint

I was in the store the other day and happened to be looking around in the cleaning section when one of these mop heads caught my eye. Seeing that it was “microfiber” like the other regular cleaning cloths for the Mint robot, I wondered if it would make for an interesting experiment. Besides this, I thought it would be kind of funny. Seeing as how this was obviously a Swiffer competitor, I figured it would probably be about the same size. At worst, it would be really wild looking. At best, it would be a great new cleaning sensation.

Microfiber cloth mop head on a Mint robot

As you can see, it was basically the exact right size. There were two modifications that needed to be made. First off, since the mop cover was built to put on a mop head that folded, it wouldn’t go on the Mint robot without having slits cut in the top parts. Second, the green part was simply too thick. The robot couldn’t get enough traction to push it around, because it was at a funny angle. So I ended up cutting out half of the green fingers. This reduced the volume enough that the Mint could run around the room.

Here it is trying to mate with our area rug.

Just for the sake of the experiment, I ran the Mint in two different rooms, just like I would any other day with a Swiffer cloth or one of the microfiber cloths that come with the robot. On the plus side, the robot sweeper was still able to see things, and also was able to tell that it had run into something when it bumped a piece of furniture. On the minus side, its cliff detection stopped working altogether, and it threw itself off a (luckily short) landing. So try this at your own risk!

Mont Robot with Microfiber Mop Head Cover

I think this answers the question: “What would you get if you crossed a Mint with Animal from the Muppets?” Unfortunately, the mop head didn’t really seem to clean the floor very well. It mostly seemed like it pushed things around, whereas the Swiffer cloths and the microfiber cloths that come with the Mint definitely do pick up a lot of dirt.

Excellent Idea! Robot AddOns Soft Bumper for iRobot Roomba

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.

Soft Bumper for Roomba by Robot Add Ons

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.

Installing the Soft Bumper onto a Roomba

final position of the soft bumper

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.

Close up view of the Soft Bumper

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.

Soft Bumper installed and ready for action!

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.