Little Helpers

The future is here with household robots. They clean floors, pools and rain gutters, even mow the yard.



You can leave the grass cutting to Friendly Robotics’ RL850 Robomower.

Friendly Robotics

It’s 2012. Weren’t we supposed to have flying cars and teleporters by now? While we may be a long way from such futuristic travel, we don’t have to wait any longer to enjoy a Jetsons-like aspect of life—robots. Today’s robots don’t look like “Rosie,” the metallic maid in the 1960s cartoon, but they will help out with the most mundane of tasks around the house and in the yard.

The most common use for cleaning robots is vacuuming, and iROBOT has tidied the way with its popular ROOMBA line of vacuums. They start at $349.99 (store.irobot.com) for the basic Roomba 530, all the way up to the 780 model, featuring a touch-sensitive interface and more virtual walls to guide your robot, for $599.99.

But for the most power and performance, I recommend the XV-11 from Neato Robotics (starting at $342.54 on amazon.com). This advanced vacuum relies on a laser scanner to map the layout of your room, allowing it to efficiently clean every inch of floor space. That’s very different from the Roomba, which travels in a circular pattern and “feels” its way around until it gently bumps into something.
The Neato also has a rectangular front, which allows it to back into corners and vacuum hard-to-reach places. That’s a big advantage over the round design of the Roomba, which prevents it from cleaning some tight spots.

iRobot’s products are still your best bet if your home doesn’t have a lot of carpet. Its expanded line of cleaning robots includes the SCOOBA (starting at $279.99), which washes tile, linoleum or sealed hardwood floors. iRobot even offers the pool-cleaning VERRO (starting at $699.99) and the rain gutter-cleaning LOOJ (starting at $129.99).

And if you want to delegate an even more arduous chore to a robot, you can always buy the FRIENDLY ROBOTICS RL850 ROBOMOWER for $1,625.99 (amazon.com). This electric, cordless mower can cut up to 10,800 square feet on a 24-hour charge. Like household vacuums and scrubbers, it also uses an onboard sensor to avoid obstacles.

Cleaning robots will even save you the hassle of remembering to charge them. Once finished with their tasks, they will automatically return to their home “base” and recharge their batteries, ready to clean once again. Just don’t expect them to talk to you, or make you dinner—not yet, at least.

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