When we think about robots, we often imagine sophisticated machines performing tasks in the factories or labs… or an army of robots uprising (depending on how much time you’ve spent playing sci-fi games) but there are smaller and simpler robots all around us doing jobs that we don’t like to do. One of them is cleaning. Do you enjoy the household chores? Nah, of course you don’t. There are cleaning bots at hand, and the added benefit is that they annoy the hell out of housecats.
The idea of a scrubber bot is quite an old one. Nintendo had a shot at making this idea into reality around the late 1980s when they produced the Nintendo Rumba. We rarely think about Nintendo as anything else but a games console producer.
Yet, back in the 1889 it was launched as a humble Hanafuda playing card company. It tried making wacky toys during the last decades of the 20th century and the Rumba is one of the wackiest.
It’s not really an autonomous robot. As you can see, it has a remote control but still for its time, the Rumba was ground-breaking.
If you like gory horror movies, you’ll recognise the name – Husquarna makes those terrible shiny chainsaws. What they also make is stuff for gardeners.
The Automower pictured here is a hybrid model. It’s got a battery that you can charge from the grid but there’s also a solar panel on top. It won’t be able to fully charge the robot but since it can top the battery up, the green warriors will like it. It can mow an area of approximately 4,500 sq.ft. on one charge but it costs a lot – around £2000.
It’s got six legs and it can go anywhere – just like an ant. The Swiss company Serbot is world-renowned for their facade lifts and speciality cleaning equipment. They created the CleanAnt to facilitate automatic cleaning of the massive skyscraper facades. It is likely that bots will eventually replace professional window cleaners. For a human to clean a 100-storey building is both dangerous and time consuming. A bot can do the job quicker, cheaper and it is safer for everyone.
There’s some trend here, don’t you think. Takara Tomy is another Japanese toy manufacturer. However, unlike the Nintendo vac, the Automee S doesn’t require a remote control. Just leave it on the screen of your tablet or smartphone and it will clean it to a high standard. All that earvax and fat, all the fingerprints – gone! The little bot is less than 7 inches in diameter and it weighs only 82 grams. It is going on sale next month in Japan only and will cost around $17. Expect the price go up when it reaches the Western world.
Well, this one you’ve surely seen. I think the videos of cats riding a Roomba are very cute. Who cares that there are like 96,781 similar “cat vs. robot” videos on YouTube? So, why include the Roomba in the list? Well, because it is the most popular cleaner robot out there. iRobot has managed to put robots on a mass-scale manufacturing line.
They’re making all sorts of stuff – starting with a DIY Create bot and ending with military bots. They’ve built dozens of different robots both for household, army and scientific research but Roomba remains the company’s biggest success with more than 5 million units sold worldwide. They come priced between £300 and £500 and there are models for both soft and hard flooring.
And it’s not a body. It’s moving – it’s a pool cleaner bot. Although iRobot are making a model for pools too, here in the UK we’re more likely to come across a Zodic Vortex. Again, it’s not cheap – expect to part with some £1,200 or thereabouts but if you hate cleaning pools, you’re going to love this.
It can deal with any type of surfaces apart from untreated concrete and with any type of pool configurations – square, oval, free-form. Just let it loose and watch it do your job for you.
So, what’s next? When will we finally get a bot that does all houshold chores for us, including cooking?
Nintendo Rumba pic via http://www.atarashi-ya.co.jp/weblog/log/eid1233.html
Arvid Linde is an independent SEO consultant, award-winning journalist, MSc in engineering, published author and a technology addict. More info on the about page.