Robot Apocalypse

Robot Apocalypse

We recently moved into our new home, and since it is 2021, we purchased a robot vacuum cleaner. We went with the Rooma i8+ from Costco as it was a good deal, the reviews are positive, and it has a self cleaning dock. There are much cheaper options on the market, but it sounds like the navigation/mapping technology is pretty important, and Roomba is the leader in that regard.

Right now the Roomba, whom we named George, is on their 3rd run of the house. They are still mapping out the main floor of the house, and appear to be over halfway to completing that mission. I have read that it can take 5 or more runs to get a complete mapping done while also operating as a vacuum. This part can be done faster in Mapping Mode, but no cleaning is done, which seems like a waste to me.

Any concern of a robot apocalypse can be well mitigated by spending some time watching a Roomba map out a room. While the technology involved in making George operate is incredibly impressive, there is still a long way to go. Watching them bump into everything in the house multiple times is both funny and sad. If there is one thing to give them credit for it is persistence.

That is until it comes to recharging itself…

When the battery runs low George makes their way back to the charging dock. On the first 2 runs George was unable to get themselves back onto the charging dock. Rather than stop and let us know that there was a problem they went back into cleaning mode, and kept going until the battery died. While I appreciate the dedication to cleaning, I don’t understand why it has to run off into the house and die. Does George realize that their existence is ending and choose to be as productive as possible before the end?

While George is not a person they are not just a vacuum either. The question of how to address a robot is neither new nor is it settled. However calling them ‘it’ seems wrong. They are acting in a semi-autonomous way to make our lives easier. Shouldn’t that afford them more respect than our ‘dumb’ appliances? Our attitudes on this matter mimic what is happening with human rights, and animal rights, and will continue to evolve. Hopefully we avoid going full Matrix or Butlerian Jihad.

I reoriented the charging dock so there is 6ft+ of clear runway and this time George was able to make their way back onto the charger. So far it seems to be doing a good job of cleaning up dirt and pet hair, which we have no shortage of.

The dogs have adjusted to George in their own ways. Enzo was not happy about the roaming vacuum to start with. He did not attack, but would bark as them as they made their way around the house. I gave him some treats and now he lies in bed while George works. Occasionally Enzo will get up when George gets too close to the dog bed. Dazey just goes upstairs while George is running around.

An uneasy truce

If you have a robot vacuum do you have any tips of suggestions? If you are considering one I would recommend buying one, especially if you have pets. Having a George has already let me relax about sweeping the floors everyday. We still need some more time for a full evaluation, but so far they are doing a great job.


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