The Next Generation Of Automated Cleaning | iRobot Roomba 980 Review
The world of vacuum automation isn’t new, but we are still waiting for a product that can completely replace the manual vacuum. Although not perfect, the iRobot Roomba 980 is very close to being that device.
iRobot are no strangers to the automated vacuum world, with the company first releasing a Roomba in 2002. The device can essentially vacuum your home using a set of navigation sensors (cliff sensors, object sensors, and wall sensors) that enable it to move around freely. The Roomba is able to change directions to avoid obstacles, find dirty spots on the floor, and to sense drops to keep it from falling down stairs.
The iRobot Roomba 980 is a mechanical device with a simple look. It’s circular in design and subtle in detail. There are three buttons that sit on top of the Roomba 980; a large circular ‘clean’ button, and two smaller ‘home’ and ‘spot mode’ buttons. These are all you need to operate it.
The Roomba 980 wakes up with a jingle when you press the clean button. Press it again and the vacuum starts a cleaning session. The home button returns the 980 to the docking station, where it will charge. Spot mode is the button I use the least, which makes the Roomba vacuum in a fixed location.
Due to the size of the Roomba, the holding bin for the collected debris is not huge, though it’s still large enough to be functional. If the bin becomes full during cleaning the device returns to the dock and the trash icon will flash red until you empty it. Once emptied, it will return to where it left off. This is similar to what it does when the battery runs low and requires a recharge.
The 980 contains a new visual simultaneous localisation and mapping (vSLAM) navigation system, which allows it to clean an entire level of a home more efficiently than previous models. The sensors inside the Roomba work the same way as the sensors inside an optical mouse. It tracks distance and direction travelled, and uses this information to map covered ground. Like all robot vacuums, it does bump around off objects such as walls and chairs, but the bumps are very soft and hardly noticeable. The iRobot Roomba 980 isn’t overly loud, althoughthe noise level increases when it moves from floorboards to carpet, as it activates the “deep clean” mode.
If you have a large surface area to cover, it’s unlikely that the 980 will be able to finish cleaning it without running out of juice, but that’s not an issue as it will automatically recharge and pick up the cleaning where it left off. This means the device can work autonomously and you can “set and forget”.
The 980 also features Wi-Fi connectivity and an iPhone and Android app. With the app, you can schedule the device to start or end cleaning jobs and tell it to go back to the docking station. The scheduling is a great addition and very handy for people with busy schedules. Forgetting that I had friends coming over one night, I used the app to set the Roomba to start cleaning my place when I was at work. If you have multiple Roomba 980s, you can also view the profile for each one on the app and determine its particular cleaning route and schedule.
iRobot hasrecently announced in the US that an Amazon Alexa Skills will be available for the Roomba 900 Series in quarter two of the year. That means all you will have to do is say “Alexa, ask Roomba to begin cleaning” and it’ll kick it off for you. There’s no word on an Australian Alexa update for the Roomba yet,but it is something to look out for in the near future.
One problem I’ve had with the iRobot Roomba 980 is that it couldn’t identify whether a slightly higher surface was an object or an area to clean. It wouldn’t move up onto the shaggy rug in my living room that was only a few centimetres off the ground.
The Final Word – iRobot Roomba 980 Review
Overall, the iRobot Roomba 980 performs impressively, and it closes the gap on replacing human cleaning with robotic cleaning. The iRobot Roomba 980 is a good option for those wanting a hassle-free cleaning system that is up there will the best in the industry.