New Roomba 700 Series from iRobot

iRobot's new series of vacuum robots features and new look and new tech

2 min read
New Roomba 700 Series from iRobot

Along with the new Scooba 230, iRobot has today unveiled a redesigned version of the Roomba, the 700 series. There are three different models: the 760, 770, and 780, and similar to other Roomba series, they mostly seem to differ from each other in frills. Here are the core upgrades from the 500 series:

-New design is smaller and sleeker.

-Battery life is 50% longer than previous generations (although it’s not clear whether they’re talking about the ‘premium’ Roombas with the increased battery life).

-I’ll quote this from the PR: “Persistent Pass Cleaning Pattern – when Roomba senses excessive dirt and debris, it uses a brush-like, back and forth motion to focus its cleaning effort in the dirty area it has detected.” Interesting; we’ll have to see it in operation.

The 770 and 780 include a few extras not present in the 760:

-Also quoted from the PR: “Debris Detector uses an optical sensor to detect larger, soft particles on the floor like popcorn, lint or paper chads, so Roomba can respond by focusing its cleaning pattern to ensure deeper, concentrated cleaning in that area.” The 760 doesn’t do this, so we’ll have to find out how exactly this differs from the regular ‘dirt detect’ feature that the 500 series Roombas have, and whether that feature is present in the 760.

-They both light up an indicator light when their dust bins are full.

-The 780 has a fancy capacitive touch sensor interface. No more buttons!

The Roomba 760 starts at $449; the 770 and and 780 will certainly be more expensive, possibly in $50 increments but we’ll find out shortly… We’ll be getting our first look and hands-on at CES starting Tuesday, and we’ve just scheduled a personal demo and interview on Friday, so stay tuned.

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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

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

"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.

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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