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A sunset is kryptonit for some fancy robot suckers

Not Liam McCabe

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There are plenty of reasons to love iRobot Roombas. We highly recommend one or two of them in our guide to the best robot suckers. But for one model, the Roomba 960, the clever navigation system, based on camera comes with one strange side effect: It doesn't work well in rooms without light.

This makes sunset a problem.

The Roomba 960 uses a low resolution camera to keep track of where it is in your home. When there is not much light, the camera cannot see where it is. (And to be fair, other brands of camera-based pots have the same problem. We have tested Samsung robots, for example, which are even more sensitive to low light conditions than Roombas.)

I first noticed on the hut almost as soon as I started testing iRobot's first robot with navigation on the camera, the (now ended) Roomba 980, back in 2015, when it was brand new. I turned the bot around 3:30 pm, planning to finish my working day by following this progressive robot, $ 900 as it cleaned my flat, taking notes on a more advanced size that the stimulus and running robots had simpler (which was rather randomly guided by bouncing off walls and furniture) that iRobot had to do for more than a decade.

As this was December in Boston, the sun began to disappear right as the session started, and my flat was completely silent at around 4:10 p.m. I didn't bother turning on any lamps because I was busy watching the next robot. Suddenly, the Roomba came to an end in an open room and a sad, short melody fell. "Error 17," he mourned.

I turned on a lamp so that I could see what was happening, staring in this fancy robot space with a confused look of confusion and discomfort, squeeze Start because why not, and watch it pick up the right to up when he left. Odd, but I let it go.

A few days later, the same thing happened again. "Okay, what is the hell going on here?" I wonder.

Although the robot had only been out for a few weeks, Error 17 was already a common complaint among new owners who had written early reviews. It seemed that no lights were triggered, and the camera-based navigation system was the underlying cause. The repair was easy enough: Turn on the lights. But in those short few moments, sunset was kryptonit to this fancy robot vacuum.

I asked iRobot what was happening, and the delegates said that "the robot can go under dark beds and into a dark room." They continued, "However, all systems based on vision require at least a little light and the 980 will have a very limited range. The Error 17 is more likely to occur in an area. overcrowded, as if someone was running it in a room dinner in the dark or dark – because the error in the other sensors was too big iRobot customer feedback / studies have found that the vast majority of people run their Roomba during the day. "

It looks like iRobot has calculated how to get its newer models to work better in low light. The company's new flagship robot, the iba + Roomba, has worked fine for me around sunset, and I haven't yet found an owner review identifying that as a problem. IRobot told us that this model has a better camera, along with more memory and processing power, that the 900-Roombas series did not – although the company has ceased to be promising that it works well in the dark , saying “these updates are possible the i-Series also helps in low light. "

What do you want to do, when someone invented a robot who can climb stairs, will we hear from owners who watch themselves jumping to the shower?

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