Robots are taking over—our chores, that is.
By Meredith Evans
Autonomous bots are vacuuming our floors and mowing our lawns, and the robo trend is only growing.
People across the globe spent $1.6 billion on consumer market robots last year, and that’s anticipated to increase to $6.5 billion by 2017, according to Allied Business Intelligence. In a report from the company, research director Philip Solis said the current market is primarily concerned with housekeeping tasks and entertainment functions and will soon be joined by security-focused products.
IRobot, founded by two MIT students and their professor in 1990, remains the current leader in the field, though a slew of companies are jumping on board the robot bandwagon. Follow us past the break for the full breakdown on this exciting field!
Roomba is iRobot’s housekeeping robot that vacuums floors and carpets. It’s among the most widely known and owned robot among the general population. While early models had a tendency to roll up electrical cords and tumble down stairs, tweaks to the design now enable newer models to avoid those mishaps.
Here’s how it works: Owners place small, cigarette pack-sized portable sensors on the floor to delineate the specific areas to be vacuumed. Newer models also allow users to program the units to begin work automatically by day and time. The unit automatically returns to its charging station when the battery power begins to wane. Special sensors can “read” especially dirty areas and concentrate efforts on those spots. The Roomba works best when used daily, and it’s better on carpeted areas; the “whisk” feature to collect dirt often pushes dust and pet hair aside on slicker wooden floors.
Scooba, Mirra, Mint & Looj
IRobot has developed additional models to do other tasks around the home:
- The Scooba robot uses a four-stage cleansing process to prep, wash, scrub and squeegee your hard-surface floors
- Similar to the Scooba, the Mint dry-sweeps floors with microfiber cloths and then mops with wet cleaning cloths to extract dirt and grime
- The Mirra model provides automatic pool cleaning by removing bacteria, algae, leaves, hair and dirt
- The Looj cleans your gutters with a high-velocity auger that spins at 500 RPM, disintegrating clogs and debris and then throwing the matter from the gutter
Among the Husqvarna lawn mower options, the Automower is the most technologically sophisticated. It works in much the same way as the Roomba: Its range is determined by boundary wires that delineate the periphery of one’s yard and prevent the unit from running rampant through flower beds. Owners program the mowing schedule, and the Automower returns to its charging station as needed for additional power.
The unit can move up or down 30-degree slopes and mow under wet conditions. It includes an automatic shutoff feature in case the unit is turned upside down. It won’t work if removed from the premises, unless you punch in the correct code. This robotic lawnmower removes the need for raking, as it self-composts clippings back into the soil. The Automower is available in four models and priced at just over $2,000.
Wait, There’s More
GizMag.com notes two other robots coming on the market soon: an electrical power line evaluator, designed to monitor electrical power lines instead of a cadre of linemen, and automatic snow shovelers that sense snow and begin work to keep driveways and sidewalks free of the stuff.