The modern American home has become a minefield of microscopic ordnance. Dust bombs... pet hair parapets... corn chips strewn like spent shell casings. It’s an unruly battlescape that requires the kind of constant vigilance that none of us has time to practice.
Which is why iRobot, a company that builds bomb detecting robots for the military, also employs state of the art technology in its Roomba and Scooba cleaning robots. The Roomba autovac is the beneficiary of ongoing technological advancements made by iRobot’s team of roboticists. Followed by the Scooba line of hardwood, linoleum and tile floor washers, the two persistent robots combine to remove up to 98 percent of household dirt and dust and up to 97 percent of bacteria*.
Storming out from its self-charging base, Roomba stalks from room to room of your choosing, utilizing Virtual Wall Lighthouse devices, which cast infrared beams to confine its activities. Loaded with sensors, Roomba and Scooba can detect stairs, ledges and conquerable obstacles like drapes (as opposed to immovable items like furniture). Roomba also detects dirtier areas in need of more attention than others.
The Roomba operates at the command of its on-board scheduler, allowing the programming of three-stage cleanings up to seven times a week. So, while your Persian cat is plotting to re-carpet the place in fur when you’re at work, Roomba’s counter-rotating bristle and beater brushes are working together like a dustpan and broom to clean up to four rooms in a single mission. When Roomba runs low on juice, it saves enough reserve power to return automatically to its charging station and martial forces for the next sortie.
In addition to gains made in intelligence over the years, Roomba and Scooba’s form factors are ever compact. At 3½ inches in height, their profiles allow them to maneuver underneath furnishings like the couch, an inaccessible hive of household refuse so typically ignored that it qualifies as a Superfund site in some homes.
Once Roomba completes its frontline offensive, Scooba’s four-stage cleaning system finishes the job, prepping, washing, scrubbing and squeegeeing floors, while automatically avoiding carpeting.
Like any revolutionary modern convenience, you won’t know that you need it until you realize you can’t live without it, as Roomba and Scooba owners often attest. So whether you’re ridding your home of dirt and debris or detecting bombs on today’s battlefield, iRobot has a bot for your bind.
* When used as directed, laboratory testing results indicate removal of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria after two passes of the Scooba floor washing robot. Individual results may vary.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.