The future is now, and it means we don’t have to clean anything ourselves anymore.
Well, at least that’s what the manufacturers of increasingly silly robotic cleaning appliances want you to think.
When robot vacuums burst onto the scene over a decade ago, they seemed to imply the end of lugging around heavy upright vacuums. That hasn’t really proven to be the case. However, the robot versions have stuck around, and technologies are continuing to improve.
First there was iRobot’s Roomba, which has now become a household name. People were fascinated by the little robot vacuum you could set and forget, letting it clean up your house for you while you were at work.
The Roomba is still the most popular model, but other companies have been trying to capitalize on its success by producing robot floor cleaners of their own. There are vacuums with greater speed and power, and some that mop as well as sweep. But some companies are taking this trend a little bit too far.
Back in 2012, Sharp created its Cocorobo vacuum, which not only cleaned floors, but also took photos and videos, could be controlled by smartphones, and even responded when spoken to. That’s pretty neat, but then things went a little off the rails.
Sharp has just released its new Premium Cocorobo (Little Sister Version) robot vacuum that truly goes above and beyond the call of duty. Sure, it will clean your floors, but it will also wake you up in the morning, tell you the weather, and answer questions. It’s basically like Siri has taken over your vacuum.
In fact, the Premium Cocorobo can interface with your smartphone, allowing you to send instructions to the vacuum while you’re at work, or receive alerts about what’s going on at home. It can, for example, tell you what temperature it is in your bedroom while you’re slaving away at the office. If need be, you can send this bot a message to turn up your air conditioner before you get home.
With all these functions, it’s no surprise that the Premium Cocorobo doesn’t hold a charge for very long. One charge takes about four hours, and allows the vacuum to clean and/or converse with you for about 100 minutes.
Cocorobo also has a manga mascot, which is a little bit disturbing, when you consider a cute little girl sucking the dirt off of your floors then casually telling you the weather.
But wait, there’s more! Japanese radio control specialists Kyosho Egg have created the Sugoi Mop! and Gomiba Go! These are — you guessed it — a remote-controlled mop, and a remote-controlled trash can. Using video-game-style controllers, you can make your trash can come to you when you simply can’t bear to leave the couch to throw out your snack wrappers. And then the Sugoi Mop! can come along behind and clean up your crumbs.
The Sugoi Mop!, it should be said, is not really a mop. It can’t be used on wet surfaces. It’s really more of a glorified Swiffer sweeper and it, along with the RC trash can, are more for entertainment purposes than actual functionality.
With some of these robotic cleaning appliances selling for upwards of $1000, are they really worth the price? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for in a vacuum.
Are you looking for the best, efficient cleaning that will leave your floors fresh and sparkling? Then you’ve come to the wrong place. Robotic devices are good for a light cleaning, but they can’t do the same work a more powerful standup vacuum can do, with the help of the human eye.
“The reliability of these auto/robotic vacuums is debatable as far as visible dust and soiling are concerned. What is not debatable is the effect that non visible particles of dirt, sand, dust and debris have on your flooring surfaces,” says David Hadidian, Owner of Bayshore Cleaning & Restoration. “Over time these particulates that are too small to see with our visible eyes are ground into the surface pours of marble or other natural stone tiles and the polyurethane finishes of hardwood. The auto vacuums mentioned above may be great for daily or routine cleaning but eventually all flooring need to be professionally cleaned and/or restored with a certified professional floor care technician.”
Are you looking for a machine that will wake you up, talk to you like an old friend, take care of your house while you’re gone, and maybe also clean your floors? Then these nearly-sentient robot creatures are for you.