At IFA in Berlin this week, Neato Robotics is, as we speak, making a bunch of announcements that promise to make the lives of people who like clean floors just a little bit better. In addition to a pair of new(ish) and more affordable(ish) Botvac models, Neato's ultrafancy D7 Connected is getting a new feature that allows it to clean specific zones that you specify, meaning that "Robot, go clean the kitchen" is now something that works.
We've comprehensively reviewed the technology underlying Neato's Botvac Connected series, and the new models that Neato is introducing offer a more affordable way to take advantage of Neato's laser-based mapping tech. The Botvac D4 Connected is US $500, and for $700, the D6 Connected adds a side brush, turbo mode, and a more filter-y air filter for people with pets that are going bald. Honestly, most people will probably be perfectly fine with the D4, especially since Neato is updating these lower end models with most of the same clever software (including, so far, no-go lines and plans for multiple floors) that first appears on the D7.
Usually, the new hardware is the exciting thing, but not today! Barely a month ago, Neato introduced the first D7 software update based on persistent maps: custom no-go lines that you can draw on a map of your place that tell the robot where not to go. Neato is now announcing the inverse of that: "Zone Cleaning," where you can tell the robot to clean only specific areas:
Today, Botvac D7 Connected is also evolving, with the introduction of Zone Cleaning. With Zone Cleaning, you can now target those trouble areas in your home more frequently. Make a zone for the dinner table, and take care of all those crumbs that fall to the floor. You can create your zones on the Neato app, with a few swipes. Then select that zone when you want it cleaned, giving more freedom and control over how you clean your home. The Neato Zone Cleaning feature will be available this Fall for new and existing Botvac D7 Connected owners.
It's nice of Neato to keep on introducing these useful features for free, and extra nice of them to gradually trickle those features down to its other vacuums—if you have an older Botvac D3 or D5 Connected, you'll get a software update this fall as well. As we've said before, it's features like these that are going to make home mapping worth paying a premium for when it comes to robot vacuums, and this is just the start of what's possible.
The Neato Botvac D4 and D6 are available online as of today, and you'll start seeing them in stores next month.
[ Neato Robotics ]
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.