Mint Plus: Mintier and Slightly More Sinister

Evolution Robotics' new upgraded Mint, the Mint Plus, is a full 50% mintier, and we'll tell you why

2 min read
Mint Plus: Mintier and Slightly More Sinister

There was something particularly fetching about the design of the original Mint robotic sweeper. It was clean. It was simple. It was white. All that has just been thrown out the window with the new Mint Plus, which has most decidedly gone over to the dark side.

Besides being blacker than Darth Vader's coal cellar (he's got one of those up on the Death Star, right?), the Mint Plus 5200 series has as a bunch of new features that mostly justify its $100 price bump. First off, the place where the microfiber cleaning pad mounts to the robot (check it out in our review if you're not familiar) now contains a liquid reservoir that keeps the pad moist while the robot cleans up to 350 square feet.

The other big change is that Mint's NorthStar cubes have been upgraded to NorthStar2, which endows each cube with some sort of unique identifier that Mint can detect to allow it to move from room to room. With a dry cloth, this gets you up to 2,000 square feet of cleaning. To make it that far, Mint's battery has been increased by 25%, and there's an optional new TURBO CHARGE CRADLE which allows Mint to be charged in two hours instead of four but sadly does not increase Mint's speed to turbo.

And finally, Mint Plus is smart enough to resume cleaning after you pause it to change its cleaning cloth, retaining its room map and moving on to all the places it hasn't hit yet after you put it back down and tell it to resume.

Besides all this additional mintiness which is now virtually certain to freshen your breath as well as your floors, the Mint Pro looks to have all the upsides of the original Mint (most notably simple, effective, silent hard-floor cleaning), along with the one obvious major downside: no carpets. Oh well, all you lucky people with your hardwood floors can just fork over the $299 for the Mint Pro and go about your happy, carpet-free lives.

[ Mint Plus ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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