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Sunsets Are Kryptonite to Some Fancy Robot Vacuums: Reviews by Wirecutter

Reasons to love the high-end Roombas of iRobot are not lacking. We enthusiastically recommend some of them in our guide to the best robot vacuums. But for one model, the Roomba 960, the intelligent navigation system based on a camera has a strange side effect: it does not work well in dark rooms.

This poses a problem for sunsets.

The Roomba 960 uses a low resolution camera to find out where you are at home. When there is not much light, the camera can not see where it is located. (And to be fair, other brands of camera-based robots have the same problem: we have tested Samsung robots, for example, which are even more sensitive to low-light conditions than Roombas.) [19659002] Quirk almost as soon as I started testing the first iRobot robot with a camera navigation, the Roomba 980 (now discontinued), which dates back to 2015, while it was brand new. I turned on the robot around 3:30 pm, with the intention of finishing my day's work by following this $ 900 state-of-the-art robot that was cleaning my apartment, noting how far it was more advanced than simpler robots. (who sailed at random bouncing on walls and furniture) that iRobot had been making for over 10 years

As we were in December in Boston, the sun was starting to fade from the beginning of the session and my The apartment was totally tarnished by around 4:10 pm I did not bother to turn on any lights because I was busy watching all this robotic action of the next generation. Suddenly Roomba stopped in the middle of an open room and let out a short, sad melody. "Error 17", he lamented.

I lit a lamp to be able to see what was going on, I watched this whimsical robot with a stinking air of confusion and disdain, I pressed Start because, why , and watched him pick it up just where he had stopped. Weird, but I give up.

A few days later, the same thing happens again. "Okay, what's going on here?" I asked myself.

Although the robot only came out for a few weeks, error 17 was already a common complaint among the new owners who had written the first reviews. Low lighting seemed to trigger it and the new camera navigation system was the root cause. The solution was quite simple: turn on the lights. But in those dark moments, the sunsets were kryptonite in these sophisticated robotic vacuum cleaners.

I asked iRobot what was happening, and the representatives stated that "the robot is able to go under dark beds and into a dark room". "All vision-based systems, however, need at least light and the 980 range will have limited range in very low light. The error 17 is more likely to occur in a crowded area, as if someone was running it in a dining room in the dark or almost because the error in the others sensors becomes too important. The comments and studies of iRobot customers revealed that the vast majority of people use their Roomba during the day. "

It seems like iRobot has figured out how to improve his new models so that they work better under dim lighting. The company's latest flagship robot, the Roomba i7 +, has worked well for sunsets, and I have yet to find a proprietary review that cites this problem. iRobot told us that this model has a better camera, as well as more memory and processing power, than the Roombas 900 series, although the company has merely promised that it would work well in the dark, saying that "it is possible that these updates the i series also helps in low light. "

What would you bet that when someone invents a robot able to climb the stairs, the owners who saw him immerse in the shower?

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