NEW YORK - Family is coming over last minute, and your floors are littered with dog hair and dirt. With the Roomba 980 (available for $899 on Sept. 17), you can just whip out your smartphone and tell this robot to get to work. iRobot's new vacuum comes with a Home app that lets you start a cleaning job and choose the cleaning mode, as well as set a schedule.
The cloud-connected Roomba 980 is smart in other ways, too. Its new iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization can build a map of its environment as it cleans, keeping track of its location. The robot uses a camera to identify and recall objects, as well as a floor tracking sensor that's similar to a PC mouse to build an accurate and robust map of the home. The 980 can sense when it's about to hit an obstacle, minimizing any impact.
"Visual simultaneous localization and mapping can do amazing things," said Colin Angle, chairman and chief executive officer of iRobot. "It creates a very detailed map. Our goal is to clean not just part of your home but your entire home."
Don't worry if you have a lot of ground to cover. The robot has enough juice to run for two hours and then return to its Home Base.
Robot vacuums aren't exactly renowned for being powerful, but the 980 truly sucks -- in a good way. iRobot promises that the robot's AeroForce Cleaning System with Carpet Boost provides twice the cleaning power of its predecessors (the Roomba 600 and 700 series vacuums). The trick? The 980 automatically increases the performance of its Gen 3 motor on carpet and rugs.
During a demo, the 980 definitely got louder when it transitioned from hardwood to carpet, with 10 times the air power, according to iRobot.
The 980's Dirt Detect tech uses various sensors to clean more in the areas with the most debris, and it should be svelte enough to fit under most furniture.
iRobot has sold more than 14 million robots worldwide, and it commands 69 percent market share. At $899, the Roomba 980 is a lot more expensive than entry-level models like the $358 Roomba 560, but the company is betting that shoppers will be willing to pay a premium for a robot cleaner that brings us one step closer to Rosie from the Jetsons.