Make Housework a Breeze: The Robots Are Here to Clean Your Home
A Jetsons "Rosie the Robot" maquette that was auctioned by Heritage Auction Galleries, displayed in Beverly Hills on July 16, 2010. Photo: Mark Ralston/Getty Images
Now that about 85 per cent of Canadians are fully vaccinated (age 12 and older), we’re inching back towards pre-pandemic life by going out more to restaurants, live events, and spending time with friends and family.
And so, the last thing you probably want is to stay home to do housework. After all, wouldn’t you rather sip a glass of wine on a patio than scrub your kitchen floors?
Fortunately, technology can help.
From window and floor-washing robots to self-driving lawn mowers, this may be the year you finally invest in an automated domestic helper.
Okay, so we’re not talking Rosie the Robot — the mechanical housekeeper who worked for the Jetsons in the classic cartoon — but you might just be surprised what’s out there.
Budget permitting, the following is a look at what’s available at your beck and call this fall.
Robotic vacuum cleaners make up the biggest selection of home robots. These circular suckers navigate around your home — ideal for carpet, tile and wood floors — and suck up dirt, dust, crumbs and pet hair (and allergens, too).
iRobot’s Roomba family is probably the most known, starting at about $499 for the Roomba i3, which uses dual multi-surface rubber brushes (that don’t get tangled with pet hair) and strong suction to remove what’s in its path. Sensors intelligently navigate the ‘bot under couches and around objects, like chair and table legs. The Roomba i3 runs for up to 90 minutes before automatically docking and recharging.
You can start the clean in one of four ways: pressing the button on top of the unit, tapping the app, setting a schedule (for it to clean a specific time, even if you’re not at home), or using your voice with an Amazon Alexa or Google assistant speaker (e.g. “Ask Roomba to start cleaning”).
On the other end of the price spectrum is the top-of-the-line Roomba s9+ ($1,399), which not only cleans floors by intelligently mapping your floor plans, but also will navigate itself back to the base to empty its dust bin for you. That is, a second vacuum is inside the charging base, which is plugged into the wall, and the disposable bags — which are purported to capture and trap 99 percent of pollen and mold allergens, says iRobot — only needs to be removed after 30 jobs.
And then there’s the just-announced iRobot Roomba j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum ($1,049), the company’s first robot to introduce “PrecisionVision Navigation,” which recognizes objects and avoids obstacles like pet poop and charging cords.
Shark also offers a robotic vacuum that can empty its dust bin into the charging base, for a more affordable $549. Called the Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty XL Vacuum, its IQ NAV technology maps your whole home, and then lets you select which room(s) to clean via the Shark Clean app or your voice (through an Alexa-enabled speaker or Google assistant). It cleans row by row, with the help of its self-cleaning brush-roll and high-efficiency filter, and then drives back to its home when the job is done, where it deposits dirt and debris into a bagless base (up to 30 days’ worth).
For those on a tighter budget, Shark’s entry level robotic vacuum starts at $219.
Finally, Dyson — a company that’s no stranger to vacuum cleaners — also has an autonomous ‘bot called the Dyson 360 Heurist robot vacuum ($1,200). Controlled via an app for added convenience, this floor vac offers up to 20 per cent more suction and 20 times more memory than its predecessor (the Dyson 360 Eye). Its eight sensors and fish-eye hemispheric lens helps it to navigate a room and around obstacles, so it always knows where it is, while it’s “heuristic” (learning) capability maps remembers your home’s layout for an optimal clean. Most notable, perhaps, is the robot’s powerful and patented cyclone technology that generates some serious suction.
Floor and Window Washers
And what about mopping ‘bots? The Braava jet m6 ($599) helps clean your hard floors — whether you’re there or not — so your home is kept spotless.
Simply attach either a wet mopping pad (for sticky messes and grime) or a dry sweeping pad (for dirt, dust and pet hair), and your helper will do the rest. Both one-time use and washable/reusable pads are offered.
As with many of the Roomba robots, this autonomous mopper uses artificial intelligence to get to know your home’s floor plan and optimize its clean accordingly. With a wet clean, a small nozzle on the Braava spritzes fluid onto the surface before driving over it. You can even control which rooms are cleaned, and when, and the Braava will return to the base and charge up to continue the job (like the aforementioned Roomba s9+).
If you own a Roomba (model i, s, or 900 series), after the smart vacuum is finished it communicates with the Braava jet m6 to then mop automatically. How cool is that?
While not as popular, there is a window-washing robot called Winbot X by Ecovacs ($749). While it might freak you out if you see this thing crawling up your windows, the aptly named Winbot could lend you a helping hand — especially when it comes to cleaning hard to reach areas outside your home.
Simply stick the doohickey to a window and it’ll initiate three cleaning stages: soaking the glass with a solution-dampened pad, wiping it down with a squeegee, and then drying with a second, clean pad.
And it can do more than windows, too, as the 9.64 x9.64×4.29-inch cordless Winbot also cleans mirrors and glass doors, of any thickness, says the company. Features also include a safety pod and tether, included remote control and rechargeable lithium battery.
Finally, the Husqvarna Automower family of robotic lawnmowers range in price from $2,500 for the Automower 315X model (for about 1,600 square-metres) to $5,600 for the Automower 435X AWD model (for up to 5,000 square-metres and handle slopes as steep as 70 degrees).
These waterproof mowers can quietly cut your grass with their electric motor (yes, even at night) and will return on its own to the charging station, power up and then continue mowing. Anti-theft alarms will prevent envious neighbours from lifting your ‘bot.
Powered by GPS-assisted navigation and by following a guide wire that you first place along the perimeter of your property (most have it professionally installed, required just once), the mower can even handle lawns with a complicated shape and navigate around obstacles, like rocks and garden gnomes.
Along with the app, those who own a Google or Alexa smart speaker can use their voice to start and stop the Automower.