Sunday, March 19, 2006

Roomba Discovery

After a lot of sitting in its box (I'm so lazy), Roomba finally made its maiden voyage around the apartment. I was pleased with it, yet also see avenues for improvement. In general, I think the robot vacuum cleaner market has a bright future.

Room for improvement: since the Roomba relies primarily on its collision bumper to sense things, as it explores the room it bumps into things, e.g. chair legs, with a certain amount of force. The bumper is compliant, and presumably designed so that it would seldom damage furniture. Nevertheless, it's a little disconcerting to see the chairs get knocked about. I think a more advanced robot with some long-range sensing would have market appeal.

The remote control to guide Roomba around the room is useful, but here too the user interface could be made more advanced. Ideally you would point to where you wanted Roomba to go, rather than pushing buttons for it to turn or go straight. Since Roomba isn't very fast, steering it manually isn't very fun.


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