Posts with «robots» label

iRobot's pet poop-detecting Roomba j7+ vacuum is $200 off right now

If you've been on the lookout for a robot vacuum to help you clean your home, a new sale at Wellbots gives you the chance to pick up some of iRobot's most advanced devices for less. The Roomba j7 and j7+ robo-vacs are both $200 off when you use the code ENGADGET200 at checkout, bringing them down to $399 and $599, respectively. If you want to go all-out, you can also get $200 off the Roomba s9+ using the same code and get it for $799.

Buy Roomba j7 at Wellbots - $399Buy Roomba j7+ at Wellbots - $599Buy Roomba s9+ at Wellbots - $799

Both the j7 series and the s9+ earned spots in our best robot vacuums guide. The j7 models are better for most people because they're cheaper and still have a ton of advanced features. iRobot came out with these models about one year ago and billed them as their first pet poop-detecting robo-vacs. AI-driven computer vision helps these machines navigate around obstacles more efficiently, which means they should be able to avoid any accidents your pets have on your floors. Plus, if they don't avoid the mess, iRobot promises it'll send you a new vacuum to replace your soiled one.

In use, the Roomba j7 cleans both carpeted and hard floors well and it navigates back to its charging base before it runs out of battery. If you go for the j7+, you'll get a clean base as well, which is essentially a garbage can attached to the charging dock into which the robot empties its bin after each job. If you really don't like vacuuming and want to interact with your machine as little as possible, the clean base will come in handy since it can hold up to 60 days worth of debris.

As for the Roomba s9+, it's probably overkill for most people — but it's one of the best robot vacuums available today. It has a sleek design and, since it has 40x the suction power of a standard Roomba, it cleans floors really well and does a good job picking up pet hair. It also returns to its clean base after each job and it'll empty its dustbin automatically. Both it and the j7 series can connect to iRobot's mobile app, allowing you to start cleaning jobs remotely and set schedules and check in on the machine if it gets stuck anywhere in your home. iRobot's app is another major selling point for these devices — it's pretty straight-forward and easy to use, so if it's your first time using a robot vacuum, it won't be too hard to set it up and customize it to your liking.

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Amazon is buying iRobot, the creator of the Roomba robot vacuum

Amazon just took a big step toward cornering the market for household robots. The company has reached a deal to acquire iRobot, the creator of Roomba robot vacuums. The purchase is worth $1.7 billion in cash and will maintain Colin Angle as iRobot's CEO. The two firms didn't say when they expected the deal to close, but that will depend on the approval of both iRobot shareholders and regulators.

In announcing the deal, Amazon didn't outline its exact plans. Amazon Devices Senior VP Dave Limp focused on iRobot's ability to "reinvent how people clean," and said he looked forward to inventing products. Angle said Amazon shared iRobot's "passion" for innovative home products and felt the internet giant was a good fit.

A successful merger will end 32 years of independence for iRobot. The company was founded in 1990 by MIT researchers, and initially focused on military robots like PackBot. It marked a major turning point in 2002, when it unveiled the first Roomba — the robovac quickly became popular and had sold a million units by 2004. The company expanded its lineup to include products like robotic mops (Braava), and became so successful that it sold its military business in 2016.


A chess-playing robot broke its seven-year-old opponent's finger

In something out of Black Mirror meets Queen's Gambit, a chess robot accidentally broke the finger of its seven-year old opponent during an exhibition in Moscow, The Guardian reported. The child apparently moved his piece too soon and the robot grabbed his finger and squeezed it, causing a fracture before help could arrive. "The robot broke the child’s finger," said Moscow Chess Federation president Sergey Lazarev. "This is of course bad." 

Video shows the robot grabbing the boy's finger and holding it for several seconds a group of people come to free him. It's not clear what went wrong, but Lazarev said the child had "made a move, and after that we need to give time for the robot to answer, but the boy hurried and the robot grabbed him." He implied that the robot's suppliers may need work on the safety aspects, saying the are "going to have to think again." 

The boy was identified as Christopher and went on to play the next day, finishing the tournament. His parents, however, have reportedly contacted the public prosecutor's office. Russian chess official Sergey Smagin downplayed the incident, calling it "a coincidence" and saying the machine was "absolutely safe." 

In any case, the incident can be seen as a modern parable of the dangers of robots, even in something as innocuous as chess. On a larger scale with things like robotic cars, however, the stakes are considerably higher

Anker's Eufy robot vacuums are up to 48 percent off for Prime Day

There are no shortage of robot vacuum deals for Prime Day, but some of the most affordable devices lie in Anker's Eufy family. A number of those robo-vacs are on sale for Amazon's shopping event, with one of our favorites being 48 percent off. You can pick up the Eufy RoboVac 11S Max is down to inly $130 right now, or nearly half off its original price. Another solid pick, the Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid, is $270 off and down to $380, which is the best price we've seen it.

Buy Eufy RoboVac 11S Max at Amazon - $130Buy Eufy RoboVac X8 Hybrid at Amazon - $380Shop Eufy deals at Amazon

The 11S Max is actually a stronger version of the robot vacuum that made it into our budget robot vacuum guide. The standard 11S has 1300Pa of suction power, while the Max has 2000Pa, so you're getting a device that should do an even better job of sucking up dirt and debris. Otherwise, the 11S Max is basically the same as the standard model: at only 2.85-inches tall, it's slim enough to get underneath some furniture and it'll return to its base when it needs a recharge. It's not a WiFi-connected robot vacuum, which means you can't control it from your smartphone. However, it comes with a handy remote that has options for most of the big things you'd want to do with a robo-vac like change cleaning modes, set schedules and more.

While the 11S Max is probably best for those who aren't sure how much they'll use a robot vacuum, the X8 Hybrid is for those who know a machine like this will fill a void in their home. It's a vacuum-and-mop hybrid device that comes with a 250-milliliter water tank that you can fill when you want to run a mopping job. As a vacuum, though, it's pretty powerful and we appreciated its accurate home-mapping skills, four different cleaning modes and its "tap and go" feature, which lets you send the machine to a specific spot in your home to clean.

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iRobot's Roomba i7+ is half off and down to $500 for Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day can be a great time to pick up a robot vacuum for much less than usual. This year, you can pick up iRobot's Roomba i7+ for only $500, which is 50 percent off its normal price and the cheapest we've seen it. It's not the newest robo-vac in iRobot's lineup, but it remains one of the most powerful. Also on sale are the entry-level Roomba 692, which you can pick up for $180, and the midrange Shark AV2501AE AI robot vacuum, which is on sale for $380.

Buy Roomba i7+ at Amazon - $500Buy Roomba 692 at Amazon - $180Buy Shark AI robot vacuum at Amazon - $380

The Roomba i7+ impressed us when it first came out for its strong cleaning abilities, accurate home mapping and handy clean base. It has 10x the suction power of more basic Roombas, plus dual multi-surface brushes that do a good job capturing dirt, debris and pet hair. After one or two cleaning jobs, the machine builds a map of your home that you can then edit and label in iRobot's companion mobile app. This will let you send the i7+ to specific rooms for targeted cleaning jobs and set "keep out zones" if you have spaces of your home that you don't want to robot to clean.

But the machine's clean base is what sets it apart from other robot vacuums. After each job, the i7+ will automatically return to its base to recharge, and it will also empty its dustbin into the clean base. That means you don't have to empty the dustbin every time, rather you'll only have to change the bag in the clean base about once every two months. If you're someone who wants a robot vacuum that takes almost all of the work out of the chore, the Roomba i7+, or a machine like it with a clean base, is the best option.

Shark's AV2501AE robo-vac is similar in that it also comes with a clean base, and some may prefer it because it's a bagless system. You'll simply pop part of the base off every time you need to empty it, and it snaps back into place when you're finished. This Shark device is actually our favorite robot vacuum right now because it combines good suction power with a clean base and an easy to use mobile app.

On the budget end of things, the Roomba 692 is a solid option. You won't get a clean base, as those are reserved for more expensive machines, but you will get good cleaning capabilities thanks to dual multi-surface brushes, adaptive navigation for better obstacle avoidance and Alexa and Google Assistant support.

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Proteus is Amazon's first fully autonomous warehouse robot

In a post looking back over the past 10 years since it purchased robotics company Kiva, Amazon has revealed its new machines, including its first fully autonomous warehouse robot. It's called Proteus, and it was designed to be able to move around Amazon's facilities on its own while carrying carts fulls of packages. The company said the robot uses an "advanced safety, perception and navigation technology" it developed to be able to do its work without hindering human employees.

In the video Amazon posted, you can see Proteus moving under the carts and transporting them to other locations. It emits a green beam ahead of it while it moves, and it stops if a human worker steps in front of the beam. 

Amazon's aim is to automate the handling of its package carts so as to reduce the need for human workers to manually move them around its facilities. In fact, the e-commerce giant stressed that its robots were designed to create a safer workplace for people. "From the early days of the Kiva acquisition, our vision was never tied to a binary decision of people or technology. Instead, it was about people and technology working safely and harmoniously together to deliver for our customers," it wrote. 

Another new robot called Cardinal was also designed with the idea of reducing risk of employee injuries in mind. Cardinal is a robotic arm that picks up packages, reads their labels and then places them in the appropriate cart for the next stage of the shipping process. Artificial intelligence and computer vision enable it to sort packages correctly. Amazon is currently testing a prototype that's able to lift boxes up to 50 pounds and expects to deploy the robotic arm to fulfillment centers by next year.

Finally, the company has also revealed that it's working on an AI technology that can automatically scan packages. Currently, workers have to scan barcodes on packages using hand scanners — this technology will eliminate the need to do that. With this scanning capability in place, human workers don't even need to pause while sorting packages: The system can quickly recognize a package the passes its camera. Amazon explained that its camera runs at 120 frames per second and is powered by computer vision and machine learning technology.

The e-commerce giant has introduced several robots over the years, and it has always emphasized that their purpose is to improve safety at its warehouses. As The Verge notes, the company said it's not looking to replace human workers even though an internal report that recently leaked revealed that the company expects to "deplete the available labor supply in the US network by 2024." An Amazon robotics lead told Forbes that "replacing people with machines is just a fallacy" that could end with a company going out of business. 

Robots learn to shape letters using Play-Doh

Humans aren't the only ones working with Play-Doh. MIT CSAIL researchers have created a system, RoboCraft, that teaches robots how to work with the kid-friendly goo. The platform first takes the image of a shape (in this case, a letter of the alphabet) and reinterprets it as a cluster of interlocking particles. The bot then uses a physics-oriented neural network to predict how its two "fingers" can manipulate those spheres to match the desired outcome. A predictive algorithm helps the machine plan its actions.

The technology doesn't require much time to produce usable results. It took just ten minutes of practice for an robot to perform roughly as well (and in some cases better) than humans remote-controlling the same hardware. That's not the same as having a human shape the Play-Doh by hand, but it's no mean feat for a machine discovering how to perform the task for the first time. Robots frequently struggle with soft objects where they tend to thrive with firm shapes.

RoboCraft-trained bots aren't about to produce elaborate sculptures. The results are still imprecise, and the machine works slowly using just two fingers. The team is already developing a method of making dumplings, though, and plans to teach robots to use additional tools (such as a rolling pin) to prep the food.

The CSAIL scientists already have an idea of where the technology might be deployed. Kitchen robots could take over more responsibilities, while artistic automatons might create pottery. Eventually, technology like this could help the elderly and people with mobility issues by taking over household duties that require subtle motor skills.

Shark's WiFi robot vacuum with clean base is half off today only

One of Amazon's latest daily deals knocks half off a powerful Shark robot vacuum. The Shark AV1010AE robot vacuum with clean base is down to $300 today only, which is 50 percent less than its usual rate and the best price we've seen it. It shares many features with the Shark machine that made it onto our list of best robot vacuums, including home mapping, Alexa and Google voice control and the convenience of a clean base.

Buy Shark WiFi robot vacuum at Amazon - $300

We've been generally impressed with Shark's robot vacuums, with both high-end and affordable models earning spots in our guides. The AV1010AE is a mid-tier machine featuring improved carpet cleaning with multi-surface brush rolls, suction that's powerful enough to capture pet hair along with dirt and debris and row-by-row cleaning. It'll also map out your home as it cleans so you can then send the machine to specific rooms for more targeted cleaning.

Shark's robot vacuum connects to WiFi so you can control it via its companion mobile app. Not only can you start and stop cleaning jobs from there, but you can also set schedules so the machine cleans routinely on certain days and times. If the robo-vac starts to run out of juice before it's done cleaning, its Recharge and Resume feature will force the machine back to its base to power up, and once it has a sufficient amount of battery power, it'll automatically pick up where it left off.

And you won't have to tend to the vacuum every job thanks to the included clean base — it'll empty its dustbin into the clean base after its done cleaning, so you'll only have to empty the base once every 45 days or so. We also appreciate that Shark's base is bagless, so you're not forced to buy proprietary garbage bags for it. The clean base is a big perk of this sale as it's pretty rare to find a robot vacuum that comes with one for only $300.

As a mid-tier device, the AV1010AE doesn't have all of the features we tested out on the model that made it into our best robot vacuums guide (RV2502AE). The AV1010AE doesn't have AI laser vision, so it won't be as good at avoiding obstacles as other models, and lacks self-cleaning brush rolls as well as PowerFin Technology. The latter refers to flexible silicon fins found on some Shark machines that help get deeper into carpets and pick up more hair. If you're willing to skip those advanced features, you'll still get a solid robot vacuum in the Shark AV1010AE without spending too much money.

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iRobot's Roomba 694 is $94 off at Amazon right now

A robot vacuum can take one chore off your hands, and now you can grab one of iRobot's most affordable machines for less. The Roomba 694 robot vacuum is back down to $180, which is just about an all-time low (we've seen it $1 cheaper in the past). That's $94 off, making it a great deal if you've had your eye on a robo-vac for a while but have been hesitant to drop a lot of money on one.

Buy Roomba 694 at Amazon - $180

The Roomba 694 is one of iRobot's most basic machines, but don't let that fool you. It earned a spot on our list of favorite affordable robot vacuums thanks to its good cleaning power and easy to use companion app. Its three-stage cleaning system and dual multi-surface brushes do a good job sucking up dirt and debris on both carpeted and hard floors, and it has sensors that can detect furniture and "cliffs" (stairs, really) so it can avoid or maneuver around those obstacles.

You can control the robo-vac via its on-device buttons or from within the iRobot mobile app, and when it has finished cleaning your home, it'll automatically return to its charging base to power up. Even if you've never used a robot vacuum before, you'll likely be able to learn the ins and outs of the iRobot mobile app pretty easily. It'll be your portal for doing things like setting cleaning schedules, checking the status of your machine and more. And if you have an Alexa or Google Assistant smart speaker in your home, you can use voice commands to control the Roomba 694.

Most people will find all of their semi-autonomous vacuuming needs met by the Roomba 694, but if you want to splurge, the Roomba j7+ is also on sale right now for $589. That's $210 off its regular rate and a new record low. The j7+ is one of iRobot's newest machines and its first "pet poop-detecting" robot vacuum. It has advanced obstacle avoidance which should allow it to avoid unexpected things on your floors, including a robo-vac's arch nemesis: pet poop. It also comes with a clean base into which the machine will automatically empty its dustbin after each job.

Buy Roomba j7+ at Amazon - $589

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iRobot's Roomba j7+ and s9+ robot vacuums are $200 off for Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend has brought back some of the best prices we've seen on Roomba robot vacuums. You can pick up the Roomba j7+ and the Roomba s9+ for $599 and $799, respectively, when using the code ENDGT200 at Wellbots. Both of those models come with clean bases, but if you think you can safely skip that extra piece of hardware, you can pick up the Roomba j7 for $399 instead using the same code.

Buy Roomba j7+ at Wellbots - $599Buy Roomba s9+ at Wellbots - $799Buy Roomba j7 at Wellbots - $399

The Roomba j7 series has some of iRobot's newest machines in it. The line debuted at the end of 2021 and the robot vacuums come with new AI-driven computer vision technology that helps them better detect objects and clean around them. The company has focused on this in the context of pet poop, claiming the j7 machines are its first "pet-poop detecting" robots. Ultimately, that means that your fancy new robot vacuum should be able to avoid any accidents your pets have on the living room floor while cleaning your home.

Along with those smarts, the Roomba j7 has 10x the suction power of a standard Roomba, plus dual multi-surface brushes, smart home mapping and more. If you spring for the j7+, you'll also get a clean base into which the robot automatically empties its dustbin after every job. That means you'll only have to empty the clean base once every month or so, depending on how often your robot cleans.

Similarly to the Roomba j7 series, the Roomba s9+ made it into our best robot vacuums guide as a splurge pick. Normally costing $1,000, the s9+ is a premium dirt sucker that does more than most people need. But it's an excellent vacuum with 40x the suction power of a regular Roomba, plus a 3D sensor for object detection and a corner-friendly design. If vacuuming is one of our least favorite chores and you want a robot that will almost ensure you'll never have to do it manually again, the s9+ could be a good investment.

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