The Roomba 980 caught our attention when it was announced back in September because it’s the first iRobot vacuum robot in a very long time to incorporate a major upgrade to its cleaning technique. For generations, Roombas have used a sensor-driven pseudorandom coverage method to bounce around a room, cleaning every part of your floor an average of three times, from several different angles. This is an effective way to clean, but it’s not particularly efficient, and it’s often difficult for Roomba to cover an entire level of a home with multiple rooms.
What’s new about the Roomba 980 is that it can localize: it builds a map of its environment (your house) and then intelligently navigates to make sure that it covers every spot. Previous Roomba models can typically clean up to three rooms on a single charge; they can’t handle more than that because, once they go back to the charging dock, they don’t have a map to know where to resume from. Roomba 980 solves that problem: it can make its way from room to room, beeline back to its charging dock when its battery gets low, and then continue right where it left off. For the first time, you can rely on your Roomba to clean your entire single-level floor without supervision or assistance, which is incredibly awesome.
It’s no surprise that the most sophisticated Roomba ever is the most expensive: it costs just shy of US $900. Is it worth the premium? We’ve spent some time with the Roomba 980, and we have a full review for you to check out. We also spoke with Melissa O’Dea, Roomba 980 product manager at iRobot, to learn more about how the robot’s navigation system works.