Thursday, January 14, 2010

Neato XV-11: The Future of Domestic Cleaning Robots?

As I write this, I am listening to "Blade Runner Blues" by Vangelis. Yes, so relaxing and futuristic that it makes my internal wiring tingle. With Blade Runner fresh in my mind, I just can not help to compare the design of the Neato Robotics XV-11 with similar ones used in the great 1982 Sci-Fi cult film. It has the retro-futuristic look that only a geek like me or you may appreciate. The color, the lines, can not point it out but in general you capture that feel. Either way, Neato Robotics is a very new start up domestic robotics company from Mountain View, California which fairly recently have introduced their XV-11 domestic floor cleaning robot. What does the XV-11 bring to the table besides the retro-future design to clean up your floors? We already have the Roomba, a swarm of Roomba "clones" and a few interesting designs (Karcher, Electrolux, Samsung, etc.) so what makes this new guy different? It still sweeps your floors (hard and carpeted) and you still have to manually dump out the collected dirt, nothing special there. What sets this domestic floor cleaning robot aside is the use of SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) technology to map out the cleaning area. Currently there are no other domestic floor cleaning robots that use this method to map out rooms. Yes, we aware of Samsung's method and the primitive method used by Electrolux but at the moment nothing like this has appeared until now. SLAM has the edge over the others because it can build maps in an unknown environment, as your home, while keeping track of their current location. In this manner, the robot is able to move around the home effectively while cleaning it efficiently. No more "blind bat" bumping, hitting of delicate furniture and/or keeping you from sleeping!

The XV-11 uses lasers in their use of SLAM and it appears to have a powerful vac motor to clean floors. It also has a scheduler and the dirt bin/filter combo seems to be easy to remove and clean. The XV-11 is able to automatically get back to base to recharge its batteries and it is able to avoid hitting furniture with the use of SLAM technology. Neato Robotics showcased the XV-11 at CES 2010 and should be available soon at a price of US $399 which places it in direct competition with iRobot and Samsung. Now let me see on how to get one for a full review! Enjoy the short video.

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