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iRobot’s new Roomba is a mop and vacuum cleaner in one

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Robot vacuums that can also mop have been around for a while, but most require you to remove the mop before they can vacuum your carpets – unless you like slightly damp carpets. iRobot’s latest bot seems to solve this problem with a retractable robotic mop arm that can lift itself up and under the vacuum to mop when needed and stow itself away when not.

The Roomba Combo j7 Plus costs $1,099 and is available for pre-order starting today. It will ship on October 4 and will only be sold with the auto-emptying Clean Base at launch. The two-in-one vacuum mop uses a new combination of acoustic sensors to detect the different types of floors in a home and “decide” when to lift the pad to avoid wire counts and when to lower it to clean hard floors such as wood. clean and tile.

iRobot CEO Colin Angle said: The edge in an interview that it is the first “hands-free” two-in-one robot vacuum cleaner and mop – because while other companies have mop pads on their robot vacuums in most other cases, the user has to attach the mop manually to clean the mop floors . They then have to remove it when they want it to vacuum carpets.

This is largely true. The $950 Roborock S7 Plus is a competitor bot that can also lift its pad when going over carpet. However, it only rises a few millimeters. In contrast, the Roomba Combo j7 Plus lifts the mop completely, so there is no chance of a damp carpet.

The Roomba Combo j7 Plus is essentially the Roomba j7 Plus robot vacuum cleaner with an integrated mopping pad. It has a slightly smaller bowl to make room for a 210ml water tank and a larger 4,400mAh battery to power the mop. In most other respects it is identical. It has smart room assignment, scheduling and virtual no-go zones managed in the app, and it works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri Shortcuts for voice control. It also comes with iRobot’s Clean Base to automatically empty the bin, but users will need to manually refill the water tank.

Some manufacturers, such as Roborock and Ecovacs, have robot vacuums/mops with feet that can empty the bin and refill the robot’s water tank. But users may need to remove and attach the mop pads on those robots, especially if they have thicker carpets.

The reusable mopping pad attaches with Velcro and sits under the robot when in use.
Image: iRobot

Cleaning tasks for the new Roomba can be customized in the iRobot app, so it can be sent to vacuum the living room and then mop and vacuum the kitchen. The water level can also be adjusted for a deeper clean, and it can be set to clean an area twice. Angle said in their testing that this was just as effective as an oscillating motion, which some other robot vacuums use to simulate scrubbing the floor.

Interestingly, iRobot has chosen to just add a pad to its flagship robot vacuum, rather than produce an all-new vacuum and mop bot. The design seems quite simple – using aluminum alloy arms to raise and lower the pad and then place it on the robot – and doesn’t change the overall look of the vacuum at all.

Roomba Combo j7 Plus can vacuum from carpet to mop hardwood floors without user intervention.

Roomba Combo j7 Plus can vacuum from carpet to mop hardwood floors without user intervention.
Image: iRobot

And while it’s hard to see how it can clean as well as iRobot’s dedicated mop robot, the Braava Jet m6, Angle said the Combo was just as effective as the Braava Jet in their tests. However, he said they still consider the Braava Jet paired with a Roomba robot vacuum to be the “ultimate cleaning experience” because the two robots can work simultaneously.

The simplicity of the Combo design means it can be easily integrated into iRobot’s other models, such as the more budget-friendly Roomba i3 Plus Evo. Presumably, iRobot started with the j7, as it is iRobot’s “smartest” robot.

I reviewed it earlier this year and it’s a good way to avoid the most common household items — including pet waste — thanks to an AI-powered brain. This means it’s less likely to derail during a cleanup and more likely to actually get the job done.

The intelligence is powered by iRobot OS, an AI platform that helps the robot’s navigation system recognize more than 80 common objects, iRobot said. Along with the new robotic vacuum cleaner, iRobot is releasing an update to the operating system that adds the ability to identify more items.

The company says iRobot OS 5 recognizes pet toys, food bowls, litter boxes, and backpacks, as well as the shoes/slippers, socks, cords, headphones, clothing, towels, and pet solid waste it could already see and avoid.

The new robot vacuum and mop works with iRobot's Clean Base to empty the bin automatically.

The new robot vacuum and mop works with iRobot’s Clean Base to empty the bin automatically.
Image: iRobot

The Roomba Combo j7 Plus leverages that intelligence with a new ability to automatically detect and recommend areas that may need more cleaning. The mop and vacuum bot can autonomously propose new “Clean Zones” around dishwashers, toilets, ovens/stoves, litter boxes and pet food bowls. The user can then direct the robot to clean the area using the app or an Alexa or Google Assistant voice command. This capability also applies to the Braava Jet m6 and other smart-mapping Roombas.

Another new feature for compatible Roombas with OS 5 is the ability to skip a room during a cleaning job. Instead of stopping the whole job because the family tries to watch TV, you can now tell the robot to skip this room in the app or with a voice command.

iRobot was recently bought by Amazon, although the deal has not been closed and currently is under investigation by the FTC, in part because of concerns about how the company’s data on consumers’ homes could be used by Amazon to gain an unfair advantage in space. iRobot recently released the TÜV SÜD Cyber ​​Security Mark for the Roomba j7 robot vacuum, which goes beyond industry standards for protecting customer data from cybersecurity threats (but not from the owners).

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