History of iRobot & Roomba

iRobot Roomba Vacuum

History of iRobot and Roomba Vacuums

Vacuuming a household can be tiresome, mundane and exerts a lot of effort to get the job done correctly. This is of course, if you’re partaking in this chore manually, without the assistance of a robotic friend to speed the whole process up.

Enter iRobot, who have been at the cutting edge of robotic vacuum cleaners for a number of years now.

iRobot began at MIT’s robotics department in 1990.

The team’s goal – make practical robots a reality.

Since then, there have been a number of significant entries in their history including;

  • iRobot rovers were at the forefront of archaeological discoveries at the Great Pyramid of Giza
  • Were the template for NASA’s Lunar Micro Rovers
  • Deployed by the USA Army to detect IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan

iRobot then branched into the domestic market, with the invention of the Roomba. This revolutionary piece of tech had sold a million units by 2004, just 2 short years after its launch.

So what exactly is it?

In brief, the Roomba is an automated vacuum cleaner that guides itself around your home, picking up dirt with spinning brushes and, of course, a vacuum.

What makes this device so special however, is its set of automated tasks.

Thanks to a host of pre-programmed instructions, the Roomba is able to determine what needs to be done and how to do it – almost off its own “instinct”.

** Read Elyse’s list of the Best Robot Vacuums for Consumers

Here’s how Roomba works:

  • Infrared beams and photocell sensors
    • Enable it to map out home layouts
  • Bumper which provides a “touch” sense
    • Let it know it’s made contact with an obstacle
  • Finally, there are further sensors underneath
  • Prevent Roomba from falling down the stairs

Roomba Stair Detection Sensors

Over the years, the features and development of the Roomba have allowed for various specifications to grow and change.

A look at a modern iteration (Roomba 780) gives a good breakdown of what one can expect from this cleaning tool;

  • 3-stage cleaning modes apply a new spinning side brush
  • Counter rotating brushes (for vacuuming dog hair!)
  • Advanced suction power for carpets and rugs
  • Dual HEPA filters help trap dust & other allergens in the air
  • Dirt Detect Series 2 can perform a high level clean up
  • Virtual Wall Lighthouses are used to “block” the Roomba from leaving an intended space – super useful in “open home” layouts!
  • Full bin indication
  • Remote Control

With so many models now available on the market, it’s easy to become entangled in a mess of reviews and jargon-talk information.

If you’re okay spending $500+ on a robot vacuum, here are a few key elements to look for when buying a robot vacuum.

  • Self-charging
  • Height – for getting under furniture
  • App/Wi-Fi control
  • Noise levels
  • 3+ modes of power suction – useful for carpets and pets (especially dogs!)

Newest iRobot Roomba models available:

  • Latest model:  Roomba 980
  • 3nd generation: 960 ; 890, 880 ; 870 ; 860
  • 2nd generation: 790, 780, 770, 760
  • 1st generation: 650, 630, 595

With the market now awash with robotic vacuums, it’s fairly obvious why they’re becoming so popular – they get the job done and save consumers time.

Roomba Cleaning Crumbs

Over the years, development has improved and the 3rd generation of robotic vacuums include mopping and 5x suction power. In a world where time is a precious commodity, iRobot remains the most innovative in its field.

** Read Lily’s review of the Top 10 Roomba Vacuums

Along with robotic vacuums there’s rumors that iRobot is working on lawn mowers, pool cleaners, and brick layering. It’s an exciting new industry to watch!

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