Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Vacuum Hacking

I should have figured that it would happen, but it appears as if people have been hacking Roombas. I have a Roomba and love it. The floors in my house are hardwood and I don't have a bunch of junk on the floor so when it comes time to vacuum the house, I choose a floor, turn Roomba on, and let it loose as I leave for work. And I run it probably once a week because of the amount of cat hair that accumulates on the floor. I didn't think cats could shed as much as they do and still have fur on their bodies!

The Roomba has fascinated me ever since my parents bought one and I stumbled across this pretty sweet breakdown of the technical pieces of the robot. I had guessed about how the Roomba works as I watched it do its thing, but I never realized that it did pretty much all of its sensing by infrared. Even the bumper on the front uses infrared lines on the inside that get broken when the bumper is pushed. What really interested me was the downward sensors that detect if Roomba is getting close to stairs and going over. I'd usually put things by the stairs or put up one of the infrared barriers by the stairs, but now I found out that I don't have to worry about it!

I would be very curious to get a breakdown of the algorithm that Roomba uses to traverse a room that it is cleaning because it seems to go over the same parts of the floor multiple times and it would be nice if it was more efficient and covered ground fewer times and finished its cleaning run quicker, but I can't complain too much. All I have to do is press a button to get my floor vacuumed!

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