iRobot is perhaps most famous for its line of Roomba house-vacuuming robots. But the company also has an excellent Scooba series of robots that wash your floor with detergent and water.
For those who would rather laze on the couch (and that’s all of us), we can now set an autonomous robot loose on the floor and it will do a pretty good job.
The second in iRobot’s floor-washing series is the Scooba 450. It looks like a heavy-duty Roomba and operates in much the same fashion, using sensors and algorithms to navigate your floor so that it covers every exposed inch while avoiding your rugs. It comes with a charger and stand to help speed up the drying process when it’s finished.
I got to use one for a while and was simultaneously impressed and grossed out at how well it cleans floors. To the observer’s eye, it appears to be largely working in box patterns to cover all of your exposed floor. Bumping into a rug causes it to change direction, so there’s no need to take up your rugs if you don’t want to. It cleans in three stages, first soaking your floors, then scrubbing them, then squeegeeing them dry. It doesn’t make any more sound than you’d expect — I was able to watch TV one room away without needing to adjust the volume a significant amount.
When the robot’s done cleaning, it’s unfortunately up to the user to empty the unit of the dirty water. You probably won’t like the way it looks, but that’s only because the Scooba works really well. According to iRobot, the Scooba will remove 99.3% of bacteria from your floor using its cleaning process. After seeing the filthy water that came out of the tank when it finished cleaning, 99.3% sounds about right.
Lazy germophobes such as myself will have difficulty saying no to this device, and with good reason — it’s an effective housecleaning robot that’s really good at what it does, totally rising to the challenge of cleaning gross floors.
The Scooba costs $600 and I have no complaints of substance. The Roomba, its vacuum-only cousin, has an excellent return-to-dock feature that executes upon completion of vacuuming, which would make an excellent addition to the Scooba, but I imagine this is absent here (and in its Scooba 390 predecessor) due to the difficulties associated with safely carrying water in a battery-powered robot.
While my cat largely ignored the Scooba, your mileage may vary. Here’s a video showing the robot in action:
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