Tuesday, May 24, 2005

iRobot goes for water sports

'BOTS Roomba Repurposed

The sequel to the successful Roomba—1.2 million sold, the most ever for a home robot— it's an automated mop called Scooba, which looks and sounds like the Roomba but wets, washes and dries floors.

Scientists at iRobot have been trying to solve the delicate technical challenges of a mop-bot for more than two years. Early prototypes used off-the-shelf detergent and became bubble-spewing machines that spun their wheels on the wet surface.

Scooba, which will go on sale by the end of the year at a still undecided price, works in four stages. A high-velocity jet stream pushes loose particles into a dirty-water compartment. Then two nozzles squirt cleaning fluid from a clean tank, and a mustache brush spreads it around. A scrubbing brush then rubs the floor and, finally, a squeegee sucks the dirty liquid into the dirty tank. iRobot's sales pitch: the separate clean and dirty compartments allow Scooba to do a better job than humans, who tend to spread dirty water around. "We are not just going to replace mopping, we are going to obsolete it," Angle says. Humans, we imagine, will gladly turn over this particular chore to our automated friends.

'BOTS Roomba Repurposed - Newsweek Periscope - MSNBC.com



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