The sunsets are from kryptonite to some luxury robot vacuum cleaners



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By Liam McCabe

This post was made in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy editorial elections independently elected by Wirecutter, Wirecutter and Engadget can earn an affiliation fee. Read the full blog about the sunsets that are kryptonite for some luxury robot vacuum cleaners.

There are many reasons to love Roombas high-end iRobot. We enthusiastically recommend a couple of them in our guide to the best robot vacuum cleaners. But for a model, the camera-based navigation system, Roomba 960, comes with a strange side effect: it does not work well in dimly lit rooms.

This makes sunsets a problem.

The Roomba 960 uses a low resolution camera to track where you are in your home. When there is not much light, the camera can not see where it is. (And to be fair, other brands of camera-based bots have the same problem – we've tested Samsung's robots, for example, which are even more sensitive to low-light conditions than the Roombas).

I noticed for the first time that almost as soon as I started testing the first iRobot robot with camera-based navigation, the Roomba 980 (now discontinued), in 2015, when it was brand new. I turned off the robot around 3:30 p.m., planning to finish my workday by following this cutting-edge $ 900 robot while cleaning my apartment, noting how much more advanced was the simpler hit and pull robot ( which navigates quite randomly bouncing off walls and furniture) that iRobot had manufactured for more than a decade.

As it was December in Boston, the sun began to fade just at the start of the session, and my apartment was totally dark around 4:10 p.m. I had not bothered to light any lamps because I was busy watching all the action of the next generation robot. Suddenly, the Roomba stopped in the middle of an open room and released a sad and brief melody. "Error 17", he lamented.

I lit a lamp so I could see what was happening, I looked at this sophisticated robot with a look of confusion and disdain, pressed. Weird, but I'll let you go.

A few days later, the same thing happened again. "Okay, what the hell is going on here?" I was wondering

Although the robot had been out only for a few weeks, Error 17 was already a common complaint among the new owners who had written early reviews. The dim lighting seemed to activate it, and the new camera-based navigation system was the main cause. The solution was quite easy: turn on the lights. But in those brief and weak moments, the sunsets of the Kryptonite were for these luxury robot vacuum cleaners.

I asked iRobot what was going on, and the representatives said that "the robot can go under dark beds and enter a dark room". They continued, "but all vision-based systems need at least some light and 980 will have a limited range in very low light conditions. Error 17 is more likely to occur in a crowded area, as if someone is Run in a dining room Room in the dark or almost in the dark, because the error in the other sensors is too big The comments / studies of the iRobot clients have found that most people run their Roomba during the day.

It seems that iRobot has discovered how to make their new models work better in low light. The company's newest flagship robot, the Roomba i7 +, has worked well for me at sunsets, and has yet to find a review by the owner citing that as a problem. iRobot told us that this model has a better camera, along with more memory and processing capacity, than the Roombas 900 series, although the company did not promise that it would work well in the dark and said "it is possible that these updates The i series it also helps in low light. "

What do you want to do when someone finally invents a robot that can climb stairs, we will hear the owners who saw them jump into the shower?

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