They say a dog is a man’s best friend, yet it’s quite possible that statement may be under threat. After all, when was the last time your dog vacuumed the lounge for you? IRobot’s founders have been innovators in domestic robotics since the late 90’s after a stint collaborating with NASA on space robots convinced them there was much to be gained in developing them for the home. Cue the Roomba in 2002, the world’s first affordable robot hoover (gasp – did I say Hoover??). Since that ground breaking moment, there are now 5 million of them busily going around our homes sucking up dirt and grime from our carpets and floors.
So ten years on what has changed? At first glance not a lot, but the new Roomba 660 has a whole lot of new things going on under her skirt flaps.
There’s an improved cleaning system for a start; a spinning side brush sweeps dirt into the main cleaning head on hardwood or laminated floors, whilst on carpets the brushes agitate the fibres to bring the dirt particles up to the surface. Then there’s AeroVac technology which sucks the brushes clean of debris into the waiting integrated bin whilst the iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology ensures the Roomba covers more of your floor more thoroughly with multiple passes.
So, what’s it like in practice?
I found it a little noisy, (although this model is less noisy than its predecessors) and it did indeed glide around the house poking its nose everywhere it could; under the couches, around the tables and even under my feet now as I’m typing! You can set it to burst into life on a schedule and, with an added extra of a floor based sensor, limit it to a particular room, although shutting the door will achieve the same result.
Its main failings are the curved design which makes it impossible to get into corners, and the Roomba’s compact size meant it needed to be emptied out more than once during a cleaning cycle. So, you could go out and leave it to do its thing and come back to dirt free floors.
On the plus side, I loved the way it found its base unit when it needed charging (a charge lasted around 90 minutes), it did clean efficiently and I found it strangely good company to have around the house, popping into the room now and then.
Now all I need is a washing bot, and a cooking bot and I’m pretty much all set.
The iRobot Roomba 660 retails at £419.