updated 11:20 am EDT, Tue May 29, 2007
Roomba 500s in Fall
iRobot is set to completely overhaul its Roomba cleaning robots this year, according to sources with access to advance information. The 520, 530, and 540 will be similar to today's Red, Discovery, and Scheduler models in purpose but will include smarter navigation and a new interface. Owners will have the option of a new peripheral dubbed the Lighthouse that will help the robot tell which rooms have been cleaned to avoid wasting energy; the virtual wall feature that keeps the Roomba out of certain areas will also trigger itself rather than require user input. The top should be reworked with a central activation button and display.
At least some models will be much tougher, the report says. Longevity has stepped up from 350 hours of steady use to 1500, ensuring a far larger interval between replacement models. Parts are also aid to be more modular: the cleaning head, motors, and wheels will be easier to clean as they accumulate grime, and should be individually replaceable without needing to take the whole robot in for service.
The top shell will also be replaceable but may be cosmetic as well as practical, based on descriptions. A separate source lastly indicates that the docking station for the Roomba series' idle moments may clean and empty itself without relying on bags.
Though the information has yet to be confirmed and is accompanied by a lone mockup image, the otherwise reliable source indicates that the new line should appear beginning in September and will replace today's models. [via Roomba Review]