iRobot rolls out a new family of vacuum cleaning robots

  • Burlington (MA) – Cleaning your floors in style means that you aren't pushing around a vacuum yourself, but rather leave that task to a robot. And to keep pace with new technology, iRobot has introduced new flagship models that, according to the company, will vacuum in your house twice as good as the original Roomba.


    While you are busy building that new PC, while you are wrapping up work you have brought home from the office or while you are completing one more level of that video game, the new 500-series Roombas can clean your floors with, if we believe the manufacturer, a "100% improved vacuum performance."

    The new vacuum cleaning robots, priced between $300 and $350, are scanning their environment 60 times per second to deliver "the right amount of cleaning power to your floor," iRobot said. The new robots carryover the previously introduced three-stage cleaning system that automatically adjusts to different surfaces.

    New features include a redesigned case, an "anti-tangle technology" that allows Roomba to "extract itself from tassels and cord tangles", a light-touch sensing system that will soften impacts with obstacles, a new "mobility system" that enables the devices to travel on thicker carpets, climb higher thresholds, and transition more easily between floor surfaces, a larger dustbin and yes, you guessed it, "colorful faceplates" that will allow customers to "personalize Roomba to match their style."

    The $300 530 model can clean up three "standard rooms" before returning to its home base to recharge and comes with two virtual walls to limit the vacuum's activity area. Upgrade to the $350 560 model and you will get "virtual wall lighthouses" (4.25" tall and 3.5" wide) that guide the robot "systematically" through your home: iRobot said that these "lighthouses" will communicate with Roomba and confine the device to one room until it has been "thoroughly" cleaned, and then guide it into the next room.  iRobot said that using RF wireless technology, Roomba now knows when it has finished cleaning a room.

    The 560 version also includes an on-board scheduling function, so it can be programmed to automatically clean up to seven days a week. Additional robots in the new line offer the ability to steer and control Roomba from across the room through a "Wireless Command Center."

    The 530 and 560 Roombas are available now through iRobot's website as well as online stores. Retailers are expected to carry the devices beginning this fall.