'Roomba' Robot Vacuum Edges Out Competitors
The iRobot Roomba 780 represents the latest of the company's robotic vacuum cleaners.
U.S. robotics maker iRobot has sold more than six million home robots such as the popular "Roomba" vacuum cleaner, but it faces a growing number of competitors eager to tackle household chores. Now a Dutch technology publication has found that the "Roomba" robot vacuum may still hold a slight edge over some of its rivals.
The tests by Hardware.Info pitted the Roomba 555 and Roomba 780 models against Samsung's Navibot SR8855 and Philips' Homerun FC9910 to find out which robot vacuum covered the most ground during their cleaning. Videos taken of each robot were matched for speed, but still seemed to suggest that only the Roombas covered all the available floor space.
Both the Samsung and Philips robot vacuums ended up leaving a corner of the room untouched, but that may have had more to do with a poorly-placed chair — an obstacle that was not apparent in the Roomba tests. The Philips robot also proved too high to fit under the couch provided for the test.
More tellingly, each of the manufacturer's robots appeared to use a different strategy for tackling the room. The Samsung and Philips robots seemed to prefer cleaning in neat, parallel lines, whereas the Roombas wandered much more all over the place.
Regardless, all the robots seemed to at least do a competent job. U.S. robot maker iRobot in particular has a reputation to back up, given that it also supplies bomb-disabling robots for the U.S. military and researchers.
The dream of a robot maid or butler remains more distant. Researchers have created robots capable of fetching cold drinks from the fridge or other chores in the limited confines of a lab, but a multitasking robot servant faces far greater decision-making challenges than those encountered by a wandering robot vacuum.