Category Archives: Other Robots

Orbotix Announces Pre-Ordering Available for Sphero Robots

OK OK I know it’s not a vacuum cleaner, but it rolls on floors, and technically it’s a robot. (It’s not the first time I’ve covered non-vacuum cleaners – For instance, I’m still waiting for the DreamBots WheeMe massage robot, alas.)

Later note: I got mine in and have posted a review of the Sphero..

I pre-registered to get one of these little robot balls and got an email from Orbotix this morning notifying me that I can reserve one today. So I did.

For those who don’t know, the Sphero is what the company calls a “mixed reality” toy. Meaning that it’s meant for playing virtual games that are mixed with real objects. In this case, it’s a ball that you can control via a Bluetooth connection from your phone. So far, it works with iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. To me, it seems like the kind of thing where maybe it’ll end up being an expensive toy, or maybe it’ll change the world. Who can say?

The price is currently $129.99 US. Something about their store page makes it looks like if you didn’t pre-register, you may be out of luck until 2012. More information can be found at their website, here.

Evolution Robots Announces New Mint Plus Model

Mint Plus Model 5200 with cloth

Today Evolution Robotics announced the newest model of the Mint Cleaner, the Mint Plus. The Mint Plus (which will be going by the model number 5200) has several improvements over the previous model. It charges faster, has a 25% longer battery life and thus can sweep larger areas. Also new is the “Pro-Clean System”, which is an improved mopping system with a reservoir pad.

Later note: We’ve got our hands on a Mint Plus and published a comprehensive review, here.

They’ve also improved the NorthStar module, which is what the robot uses to navigate as it seeps and mops your floor. According to the manufacturer, the NorthStar2 module is more efficient, and helps the Mint sweeper cover more ground faster.

The new Mint Plus charges in two hours, and can go for four hours. It has a Pause/Resume feature for pausing the Mint mid-clean. The Mint Plus also features a “Quick Clean Mode” where it does the back-and-forth floor cleaning but then skips the perimeter.

Mint Plus Pro Clean reservoir illustration

Details about the New Cleaning Pad Reservoir

The Mint sweeper comes with a cleaning pad that you attach a Swiffer or washable microfiber cloth to. Evolution has modified the pad so that it has a reservoir that you fill with water (and a “mild cleaner” if you prefer). To use this feature, you remove the cleaning pad from the robot, fill the reservoir at the sink, add any cleaning solution you desire, close the reservoir, and you’re ready to go (after attaching the cleaning cloth, of course). We’re really looking forward to trying this out. In our experiments with using the regular Mint robot for mopping, the cleaning cloth would dry out before the robot was done mopping. This is a great idea. More info here on Mint’s site.

Improved NorthStar

Looks like the NorthStar2 module helps the new Mint Plus navigate larger areas, and also they have changed the way that the robots clean multiple rooms. With the older Mint cleaner (Model 4200), the second NorthStar module would simply keep the Mint from going into the next room by itself. You would have to move the Mint robot there yourself. With the new NorthStar2, they’ve changed the way the cleaner interacts with the NorthStar cubes such that it will stay in one room until it finishes, and then will go into the next room (with a second NorthStar module). Unfortunately, the 4200 Mint will not be able to use this new navigation scheme.

With the new NorthStar2, you can also pause and resume cleaning. So if you want to change the cleaning pad, or replenish the Mint’s reservoir, you can pause the Mint by pressing any button on the robot, and then when you’re done, the Mint will resume cleaning without needing to cover floor area that it’s already done.

More information on Mint’s site, here.

Mint Plus with Cradle - model 5200C

Mint Plus with Cradle

Mint’s site also mentions that there will be a Mint Plus with Cradle (model 5200C) coming. That sounds like a great idea. Watch our site for more information about this, and a review as soon as we can get our hands on one of these babies.

The Mint Plus is currently available at Amazon dot com – charging cradle here.

Further Reading about the Mint 4200 Model

See our in-depth review on the Mint Cleaner here. Check here for a comparison of Mint and Roomba. And, 12 reasons why the Mint is better than the Scooba 230.

Dreambots WheeMe – OK it’s Not a Vacuum

It’s a robot masseuse (or masseur, depending). It’s not a vacuum, but it is a consumer-level autonomous robot that does a job (massage), so I decided to include it here.

Dreambots WheeMe massage robot

This is an interesting idea. Some engineers have put together a small, autonomous, wheeled robot. It’s designed to roll around on a person and give them a massage. The robot has tilt sensors built in so that it knows when its about to roll off your back, and also apparently “grips” while giving the massage. The wheels have fingers to massage your back (or whatever it happens to be rolling on).

Here are specifications:

  • Colors available: White/blue, White/Green, White/Red, Silver/Pink, Silver/Purple, Silver/Metallic Red, Silver/Metallic Blue, Silver/Metallic Green, Metallic Black
  • Size: 5″ x 3.8″ x 3.1″ (128mm x 96mm x 80mm)
  • Weight: 0.73 pound (330gram)
  • Speed: 1.6″/sec (4cm/sec)
  • Fingerettes: Nylon
  • Warranty: one year

The WheeMe uses three AA batteries. I’m hoping that it will come with a charger, but right now it looks like that’s not the case (?). It does not come with a remote control, which is fine with me. I mean, I could see it being fun – for 5 minutes. On the plus side, the robot’s gears were specially designed to be silent, so you’re not going to have something whining around on your back.

The WheeMe is available for pre-order from Dreambots website. The price is currently listed at $69 and the first robots are expected to ship in Spring of 2011. Check out the video to see the WheeMe in action, proving massages.