By Daniel Cooper
There are plenty of robots that say they can vacuum and mop your floors, but never to anyone’s satisfaction. With some, you have to futz with the system to add the mop halfway through, others it’ll drag the dirty pad across your clean carpets and rugs. It’s a problem that iRobot has spent plenty of engineering resources trying to solve, saying that the new Combo j7+ is the solution. Co-founder and CEO Colin Angle describes it as the “first legitimate 2-in-1 vacuuming and mopping robot ever created.”
Instead of requiring a user to make changes partway through a mission, the j7+ has a standard vacuum body up top. When it’s finished, however, a pair of recessed arms pull down a mop pad that’s housed in the top of the chassis down to the floor. From there, it’ll drag the pad along your hard floors, before pushing it back away if and when it has to cross carpet. All a user has to do is change the bag and refill the water, which could take up to 60 days at a time.
Angle and iRobot’s product manager Praj Shyamkant said that the plan was to ensure that the mop would never, ever, come into contact with your soft surfaces. And that users could expect the device to do what you should expect from its description without any micromanagement. Given that the unit sits on the same footprint as the standard (poop-detecting) j7, it required a lot of engineering nous to shrink all of the fancy new gear into its body, too.
At the same time, iRobot wanted to show off the power of its new iRobot OS 5.0, its latest and greatest operating system. This is includes better integration with home and phone assistants like Siri and Alexa, the ability to denote more clean zones for extra attention and better hazard avoidance. You can also amend mission plans on the fly, banishing your Roomba from a room where you’re about to take a Zoom call, for instance. iRobot also wanted to affirm its pledge to protect user data, never to sell it on to third parties, and that it’s secured a TÜV SÜD Cyber Security certification for its data hygiene.
The Roomba Combo j7+ is available for pre-order today, and will cost $1,099 in the US, with shipments due to begin October 4th. It’ll be available in the UK for £999, but you can also pick up a version without the Clean Base for £799, while other countries can expect it to appear through the rest of Q4, 2022.
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