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How I Got A Robot To Vacuum The House

Like most people I really hated to vacuum the house. I thought anyone who enjoyed vacuuming was close to insanity. Well, I must be crazy too because I have started vacuuming every few days. Why? Because I purchased a robotic vacuum cleaner.

All you do is place it on the floor, turn it on, and push the clean button to start it off on its cleaning odyssey. It will circle a couple of times and then off it goes around the room seeking out dirt and dust. Whether the floor is carpets, hardwood, ceramic, or tiles - it does them all with equal enthusiasm.

It is not a toy or gimmick. Rather, it is part of a new generation of household equipment that will soon become common. They are products that can make decisions as to how best to accomplish a task. Not quite true artificial intelligence, but definitely smart enough to vacuum the rugs for you.

The two preeminent manufacturers of these vacuums are Electrolux* and Roomba*.

The Electrolux version is probably the most sophisticated. It incorporates eight ultrasonic sensors and some advanced computer reasoning. It sends out a sound beam that allows it to determine where all the objects are located in the room. It can even find its way back to the charger when the power levels begin to drop. Once charged, it will appear again to continue the cleaning. When it determines the room is clean it goes back to the charger, turns around, backs into it, and turns itself off. This robot vacuum has been available in Europe for a couple of years. It appears to be the most complex of these machines and comes with a $1795 price tag.

The robot vacuum cleaner I purchased is the Roomba, manufactured by the iRobot company. It is a simpler and much less expensive version and carries a price tag of approximately $249. Its round shape, bright colour, and flashing buttons give it a futuristic look. At three inches in height and one foot in diameter it looks like a miniature flying sauce as it scurries across the floor.

It uses a bump-and-turn method of operation. Once operational it goes in a straight until it bumps into something. Each time it encounters an obstacle it turns and goes off in an alternate direction. If an unusually dirty area is found the vacuum will circle until it is satisfied the area is sufficiently clean. This way dusty corners or debris such as cookie crumbs get extra attention.

These little whirling dervishes of the vacuum world can even deal with obstacles such as stairs, thresholds, and transitions between different flooring materials. When it encounters the top of a staircase it will come right to the edge, stop for a few seconds, make a reverse turn, and go off in another direction.

Since purchasing a robot vacuum cleaner I have gone from vacuuming once a week to every couple of days. The results of the increased cleaning frequency are quite visible. This little machine has put the shine back into my carpets.

The only disadvantages I have found are minor. For instance, the dust storage bin is small. The bin should be emptied after every few uses to prevent it from becoming full. Also the power brush can become clogged with small bits of debris. This is easily corrected though by disassembling the brush and cleaning the bristles. Roomba even provides a special comb for this job. It works quite well.

So, if like me you hate the thought of getting out the vacuum and pushing it around the room, then consider a robot vacuum cleaner to help you with this chore.

Ladies, do you know statistics show that 85% of household chores are done by women. So, if you ever want to get a man to "do" (initiate may be a better term) the vacuuming then perhaps consider introducing him to a robot vacuum cleaner. The first few times I used mine I sat for hours watching it operate. I was utterly fascinated by how it traversed the labyrinth of my main floor living areas. To the extent that I could hardly wait for it to recharge so that I could start it up again.

Here is an interesting idea. Since all men like gadgets, " Why not get Dad one for fathers day ". That way he won't have any excuse for not being involved with the vacuuming. Besides, It will pay him back for the toaster he got you for your birthday last year.

* Electrolux is a registered trademarks of AB Electrolux of Sweden

* Roomba is a registered trademark of iRobot

Copyright 2005 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved. Service manager of MG Appliance Repair Services in Ottawa, Canada. In the trade over 30 years as a technician, business owner, and technical trainer. For more information about appliances including FAQ, Stain guide, Recycling, and Newsletter visit

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