Massachusetts-based robotics company iRobot unveiled Wednesday the Roomba 980, the most advanced version of the iconic automated cleaning disc it's ever made.
The 980 is the first Roomba that's also a cartographer. A new combination of cameras and sensors lets the robotic vacuum create a map of its environment every time it begins a new cleaning mission, helping it make sure not to miss a spot.
An added bonus: If your house is big enough that the Roomba needs a recharge midway through a sweeping sortie — iRobot says the battery lasts about two hours — it can come back to its docking station, juice up, then head back out to finish the job based on the map it made. For the security-minded out there, the Roomba deletes the maps it makes at the end of every cleaning session.
Also new is iRobot's HOME app, which makes the new Roomba more of a smart home device than it's ever been before. Using your home's Wi-Fi network and the iPhone or Android app, Roomba 980 owners can schedule cleaning sessions or send the Roomba out on an impromptu run. Combining that feature with other smart home gear — say, a connected camera — could make it even more useful. See Fido knock over a potted plant? Dispatch the Roomba to clean things up before you even get home. The HOME app also provides an analytics dashboard for your Roomba, allowing you to see how hard it's been working while you're not around.
Other intelligence-boosting features, like an automatic power boost on carpeted floors and an updated wireless accessory that establishes a "Do Not Clean" zone, add to the Roomba 980's bag of tricks.
Still, having a high-tech robotic vacuum slave doesn't come cheap: The Roomba 980 is on sale starting Thursday, Sept. 17 for a starting price of $899.