iRobot has just released a series of Roomba robot vacuums with a selling point that may resonate with pet owners. Roombas have famously caused gigantic messes whenever they inadvertently run over your cat or dog’s “accidents”. Now, iRobot wants to change that by equipping the new Roomba j7+ with artificial intelligence that detects, among other things, poop on the floor.
The vacuum uses onboard machine vision through the built-in camera to detect and avoid common obstacles such as cords and messes made by your pet, with an algorithm to recognise shoes and socks coming later on. When it detects an object in its way, the Roomba will send a notification to the smartphone app and the owner will have to choose whether it’s a temporary or permanent fixture. If the obstacle is permanent, the robovac will designate the area as a no-clean zone.
To show you how confident iRobot is with it’s algorithm, each j7+ comes with a P.O.O.P. (Pet Owner Official Promise) guarantee. This promises owners that If the Roomba fails to avoid solid pet waste within a year of your purchase, the company will give you a new one for free.
They’re also rolling out version 3.0 of iRobot Genius, the company’s AI Roomba software that maps users’ homes for better cleaning instructions. Some of the new features in the update include a “Quiet Drive” mode, cleaning time estimates for specific rooms, and “Clean While I’m Away” which automatically triggers the Roomba to start cleaning whenever it detects that your phone is out of the house.
Older Roombas, including the more premium s9 series, won’t be getting the poop-avoidance feature due to the camera placement. iRobot says that for the j series, they moved the camera from the top of the robot to the front, which gives it a wider field of view and allows it to see objects on the floor. The j7+ comes with a Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal base station that holds up to 60 days’ worth of dirt. It also comes with a new beveled rim that’s supposed to stop the machine from getting stuck under cabinets and refrigerators.
If you want it with the base station, you’ll have to fork out US$849 (~RM3516) while the vanilla j7, without the self-emptying dock, costs USD$649 (~RM2687). While we don’t know when the j series is coming to Malaysia, most iRobot Roombas are officially available here, so we can hopefully expect to see it eventually.