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[edit] Roomba

iRobot sell the Wikipedia:Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner system. The unit comes as a 13 inch disk containing wheels, brushes, sensors, and a pretty big rechargeable battery.

When charged and activated, it rolls around the floor, sensing dirt in carpet pile, working to brush it out, periodically bouncing (quite gently) off walls and furniture. In a way, it's not terribly efficient; it does a random walk around the room(s) being cleaned; it would probably be quite possible to have more efficient "searches for dirt." On the other hand, it operates fairly simply, and you don't need to care TOO much how long something that operates unattended takes to do its work.

This should, as an overall tradeoff, provide substantial time savings:

  • As mentioned, it may be somewhat inefficient, but if you run it for an hour per day, that's almost certainly more than a replacement for 40 minutes of vacuuming work by a human
  • There is some nominal time required to set up a vacuuming cycle; only a minute or two, if the room is reasonably tidy. This makes it valuable to have a relatively uncluttered living space, which is likely a good thing in many other ways! Note that the Roomba does not worsen this; it and its accessories should not add to clutteredness.
  • There is the cost that one must spend some time maintaining the robot, specifically, in emptying dirt out, and in periodically pulling debris out of the brushes. It is unlikely that this will require as much time as has been saved by eliminating the human effort involved in controlling a vacuum cleaner.
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