iRobot’s Platform Upgrade Takes Roomba AI In A New Direction

A software update beginning today will give Roomba owners much more control over their robot vacuum cleaner, while in turn their cleaner learns more about them. The new platform, called iRobot Genius Home Intelligence, includes an app redesign and represents the biggest change yet to the way that Roombas operate. 

The platform upgrade builds on the mapping capabilities introduced in 2018. If you haven’t used a robot cleaner that can map, it’s a game-changer. Using Lidar, the robot makes a virtual map of your home which you can access via the app. You can designate exclusion zones to, say, keep it out of a room that’s carpeted in Lego or half your wardrobe. You can also schedule it to clean in particular rooms at particular times.

Robot cleaners such as the Roborock S6 Max V, which use cameras alongside Lidar to build up a more specific picture of your home and its contents, can also identify and avoid cables, shoes and even pet poop. It means that you don’t need to clear a room before it’s cleaned and the cleaner can learn to navigate around common obstacles. (We just reviewed Roborock’s S6 Max V. It’s impressive.)

iRobot will be taking the zoning and personalisation a step further, with the ability to mark out specific spots within a room, such as a table or counter. This means that you can schedule a clean around the kitchen table every day after breakfast, or, coupled with an Alexa voice command, can ask your robot cleaner to vacuum around the sofa post movie and popcorn, while you head up to bed. It also means you can zone no-go areas more tightly, to avoid the shoes by the front door or cables by the gaming consoles.

Roomba owners will also be able to link cleaning schedules to events. So, if you have a compatible smart lock, or you use location services, your robot vacuum can start sprucing the place up as soon as you walk out of the door.

The improved communication is two-way, as the machines will also be able to make recommendations to you. Some suggestions will be based on your patterns of usage and others on seasons, for example, more frequent cleaning at times of the year when your pets shed a lot or when there’s more pollen in the air.

If you’re a current Roomba owner, you should know that not all of the new functionality is supported by all models. All wi-fi connected models will be able to upgrade to new cleaning routines and event-based automation, but only owners who have models with existing mapping capabilities will be able to access all of the new features.

To see the robot vacuum cleaners we currently rate most highly, have a look at our round-up of the best robot vacuum cleaners we’ve tested.

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