Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tip of The Month: Maintain Your Karcher RC3000

If you are lucky enough to own a Karcher RC3000 you should already be aware how reliable and fully autonomous these floor cleaning robots are for your home. But one thing is true, the Karcher RC3000 is a well engineered robot but it even needs its maintenance routine once in a while to have it running on top notch efficiency and for years to come. Here are some simple steps that you can do with a couple of spare minutes of your time. Usually in an "ordinary" family home with no pets and just regular home dust you will need to do these steps once every 2 ~ 3 months but your mileage may vary by different enviromental conditions as pets, construction, ventilation, etc.

1. Remove the robot from its base, power it OFF and wipe the external shell with a lightly humid cloth to remove accumulated external dust. This will help the top IR sensors to always be cleared from dust so it can see its base much better and accurately.

2. Wipe off collected dirt and grime from the wheels until clean with the same damp cloth or damp sponge. It helps the robot grip the floor and move better when these are cleaned well.

3. Open up the dust/dirt bin and remove the meshed filter carefully. Cleanse thoroughly with cold water (no need to use detergents), leave it to air dry or use a towel (be careful not to rip the nylon mesh). A clean filter will improve dust/dirt collection efficiency by a huge factor!

4. Pull out the main brush and cut away any accumulated wound up hair. Cleanse it with cold water after removing the hair and air or towel it dry. This will give better flexibility to the brushes and provide a better pathway for the dirt/dust particles to get suctioned off by the base.

5. Clean the base rubber seal with the damp cloth or sponge. This will improve the seal between the robot and the base when it collects the dirt/dust from it.

6. Remove the air filter from the base, cleanse it out with cold water, air or towel dry before re-inserting it to the base. This will improve suction from the main base to collect dust and dirt particles from the robot.

Make sure that all cleansed parts and filters are dry before re-inserting them into the robot and/or base. Repeat these steps every time you need in order to make your RC3000 work and last for years to come!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Real Life Transformer Domestic Robot

A couple of students from Louisiana State University created a versatile domestic robot called agBot. All current domestic robots currently in the market are single task robots, they either clean your floors, cut your lawn, check on your kids or serve as entertainers. The idea behind agBot is to have a domestic robot that is customizable to be used for multiple tasks. The agBot pictured is a multi-functional robot that is capable of acting as a security guard, cutting/fertilizing your lawn and even picking up your mail while running on solar/battery power. Domestic robots need to be multi-purpose and able to be upgraded with modules otherwise we will end up with a fleet of single task robots in the home like me (Scooba, Roomba, Dirt Dog, Cleanmate, i-Sobot, Rovio, etc.). iRobot, with their current modular Roomba 500 series, has set the first foot on a possible path towards multi-purpose robots but we will have to wait and see if they pursue this idea. If they do not then it will be up to people like these students from Louisiana State University to take on the task of creating multi-purpose robots.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Emergence within Domestic Robotics

"Emergence: The way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions."
Emergence exists everywhere we look but recently it has been looked at as a method of creating artificial intelligence from basic instructions in robots. Swarm robotics is an interesting branch that can result in better and more efficient work from robots that work together for a single cause. Emergence with a swarm of robots is not pre-meditated but instead is a result of the sum of all these robots working around which end up with interesting patterns. Here is a nice video showing what I mean (observe closely how the robots (iRobot Create) "organize" the boxes):

Monday, November 17, 2008

iRobot is Keeping ConnectR on Life Support

Many had started to think that iRobot's ConnectR was out the door. The state of the economy and competitor products like WowWee Rovio makes it difficult for iRobot to continue with the ConnectR project but it seems that they still have it on life support! Recently some iRobot robot owners have received a survey asking them for their opinions on concepts/experiments/ideas that they have in mind. I would be very glad to see and review what they have on their R&D tables.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Aldebaran in Motion; Will You Still Want One?

In March 2008 I wrote about Aldebaran Robotics and their interesting humanoid robot called "NAO". Back then, Bruno Maisonnier (Founder), mentioned that Nao was scheduled to go on sale on Q4 2008 and we are only a few months before 2008 ends! This robot will not be cheap but it does come with many electronics and features that will make any geek faint. Take a look for yourselves to see what NAO is capable and let me know if you are getting one!