I took up Manufacturing Engineering and Management at De La Salle University and I was always fascinated with technology. Particularly how all things work together and the possibility of inventing something new that will help life become easier. As such back in college most of our thesis were about robots. This was back in 1995-1996.
Fast forward to today, the technology for robotics as grown by leaps and bounds and is entering each and every nook and cranny of our lives regardless of how mundane or dull that aspect is. The aspect of this article is about cleaning at home! Yes there are robots that clean homes and buildings i.e. floor, windows etc. I remember watching an Astroboy the movie and seeing animated window cleaners cleaning windows in a building.
10 Things to Take Into Consideration when Shopping for a Robot Vacuum Cleaner
1. Versatility and Accessories - this covers the ability of the robot vacuum to clean up what ever the mess be it dust, hair, liquid, tough stains and maybe even poop! The robot should be able to detect the type of mess be it water, dust, etc. The robot should have various attachments depending on what is being cleaned i.e. mop to soak up wet stuff, sweeping, vacuuming, drying etc. The robot should have enough power for tough cleaning and also gentle depending on what is being cleaned. And at the end of it all it should be self cleaning.
2. Control - control of the robot vacuum would be great if it can be done remotely either via wifi, Bluetooth, voice control, via an app or other means.You should be able to provide orders for the robot to commence its work as well as change orders or stop all together. As with all remote technology is concerned if the robot is part of the internet of things being connected to wifi, manufacturers should have the proper safe guards in place to prevent hackers from taking control of the equipment.
3. Maneuverability and Programming - as with all robots they should be able to work on their own and sense objects which are immobile and mobile, be aware of their surroundings to be able to get the job done. This being aware could be by automation if any artificial intelligence is included or some programmable mapping of rooms, zones, areas, locations that could be pre-programmed. Frequency and schedule of cleaning can programmed into the robot. Depending on what needs to be cleaned be it an edge or hard to reach location, the robot vacuum should be able to sense this and clean accordingly.
4. Safety - given a location may have various levels the robot vacuum should be able to sense if it will be dropping of a cliff, bumping into something, sense objects etc. Would think it would have some defensive driving mechanism so as to avoid bumping and then resume the work where it left off. Objects of course to avoid could be mobile or immobile objects. Mobile objects could be tricky because you could have adults, children, pets, strollers, chairs, toys and a lot more. Depending on the time of the day say in an office building there could be a lot of people like during rush hour. Infrared sensors would think would play a key role in this aspect as well as some AI programming that car makers are using.
5. Dust Bin Capacity - based on how much work is to be done then need to make sure the built in dustbin of the vacuum should be big enough so that you don't have to keep on emptying it all the time. Wouldn't it be great if robot vacuum can empty it's own dust bin? Then again wouldn't it be great if the vacuum is something like Wall-E in the movie. I remember the 80's when we take vacuum storage bag and hook it up to the vacuum cleaner. These were big storage bags.
Someone actually made one! See the video below!
6. Climbing - wouldn't it be great if the robot vacuum can climb stairs or inclined surfaces? Well to some extent they can go on inclined surfaces. Wall-E though can go everywhere.There should be sufficient power and torque to get the whole robot up an incline if ever. Some models have sufficient power for such. Just check the specifications.
robot vacuums to get back to home base where there is a wireless charging pad. Wouldn't that be nifty? Some power banks already exist that does this.
Here's a video about the evolution of the battery
8. Quiet - When you mention the word vacuum cleaner, the first thing that comes to mind is the super loud sound for cleaning. You can hear it on the street outside or in the hallway! Wouldn't it be great if the robot vacuum cleaner had some noise cancelling effect so you won't hear it. But of course if this robot is working you don't want to make a mistake tripping on it cause you didn't hear it. So some other indicator of it being active like a beeping sound or other sound that is calming and / or light would help.
9. Warranty - as with any product it's good if the product comes with a warranty for a good length of time. Usually this length of time is 1 year. There are products that place tamper resistant stickers to tell you that if you open the product on your own the warranty is void. So please be wary of such. If in doubt always ask support! It's also good to ask for warranty where to send the product if it needs to be sent in and who shoulders the charges!
10. Support - When you get a product make sure that the support team is ready and willing to help you out. Robots these days come with so many electronic and mechanical parts! Then you got the software in the robot vacuum if any that controls the electronics and then the mechanical parts. If you like tinkering with electronics it probably is best to make use of the warranty and get the experts of the product to help fix the product first before going at it on your own. Support for various products these days usually come in a wide variety of channels be it email, online chat, skype, phone etc. Usually type of support varies per country or region that you are in or where you have purchased the product.
Example of a Robot Vacuum Cleaner