Good News: The New Roomba Is Now Programmed to Avoid Dog Poop
IRobot, the company behind the Roomba, is introducing improvements to its automated vacuum cleaner to prevent it from doing the exact opposite of what it should be doing. If you have a dog, you know what I mean. You come home from work, expecting clean floors, but instead, you stumble upon what looks like a murder scene with dog poop.
It’s an issue that’s been hounding (no pun intended) Roomba owners for years, and it’s why iRobot has unveiled a new model, called the j7+, that can recognize and avoid both power cords and poop.
According to iRobot cofounder and CEO Colin Angle, the company previously tried sensors that could detect pressure and odor. When those methods didn’t work, they tried artificial intelligence, which required a library of feces photos — both real and fake ones made by molding Play-Doh — for the machine to learn what poop actually is. Amusingly, even their employees contributed to the library, taking pics of their pets’ waste from different angles.
The resulting j7+ model can now see these obstacles using its built-in camera and image-recognition software. Once it identifies a lump of poop, it will not only go around it, but also take a picture and send it to you via the app, basically telling you that it’s time for you to join it in cleaning duties.
The company is so confident about their new technology that they have a program called Pet Owner Official Promise (POOP), which guarantees a Roomba replacement if it still manages to smear poop around your home. Angle explained: “We felt like that was an important part of conveying our conviction that we have this one under control.”
IRobot’s Roomba j7+ starts at $650 (or $850 if you choose the option with the base that the machine automatically dumps its waste into). You can learn more about it here.