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Robot vacuum cleaners

I was chatting to a work colleague about birthdays, the amazing fact that we’re now well into the 21st century, and what happened to the promise of robots who would do the housework?

Of course, we have dishwashers, clothes washers, dryers… and then she said she has one of those robot vaccuum cleaners. Apparently it works wonders in a flat with floorboards and cats that leave hair everywhere.

[Video from Harvey Norman web site]

It gets switched-on when leaving for work. It roams around the house (I guess the cats are used to it) and then returns itself to its charging station.

Apparently it handles rugs okay, and given I have floorboards (but no cats), I’m wondering if it might be a good Christmas present to myself.

The base models from the excellently named iRobot company appear to cost about $400, judging from Harvey Norman’s list.

Previously I’ve been wary of these things as being an expensive gimmick. But I wonder if the technology is sufficiently advanced now that they are reliable and effective enough to provide some genuine benefits for the cost.

Anybody else have one? What do you think of it? Are they as good as the reviewers on the HN web site claim?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Robot vacuum cleaners”

I have one… iRobot 577 i think it is… I love it!
It picks up so much more than my old vacuum cleaner! But you still need to keep your old vacuum cleaner to use occasionally because the robot won’t be perfect.

You should check out Choice magazine as they have a couple of reviews of robot vacuum cleaners. They also have a review of a robot mower.

It would be awesome if they could combine the robot vacuum and robot mower…

Love ours – I forget which model it is, but it’s one of the series designed to pick up pet hairs, and it does a great job of that. Run it a couple of mornings a week, and just have to remember to switch on a little battery-operated ultrasonic wall gizmo to keep it away from a couple of odd-shaped lounge chairs, as otherwise it runs aground and gets stuck on their feet.

I’ve got a iRobot one from many years ago – I imported direct from the States – I’m sure it was less than $400 even ~8 years ago. I’ve not used it in a while but my experience with it was all positive. It does not replace a real vacuum cleaner (it wont pull dust and dirt out of carpet) but in terms of keeping things more tidy for almost zero effort it’s a winner. Some minor issue I can point out are: Sometimes it doesn’t return to it’s charge station, sometimes it can get wedged under stuff. However the fact that I’ve not bothered to use it for some time also indicates the slightly gimmicky nature of the purchase. At the time in my life I had it I was single and without kids and it really hit the spot.

Will it set off the security alarm?? I’m not sure it would be all that useful to leave it running during the day whilst at work if it triggers off the alarm.

Is it smart enough to avoid stairs? Or will it go hurtling off the edge??

I’ve had two over the past mumbly-mum years, and overall I don’t think they’re worth getting. You end up having to re-design your living areas to accomodate the device, keeping it away from wires, carpet edges and anything else it might chew up. I would recommend not getting one.

@andrew: You’re using the Internet wrong. I see so few ads that I get a shock when one makes its way onto my screen.

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