This story is from the category Artificial Intelligence
Date posted: 24/05/2005
iRobot Corp, makers of the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, have introduced a prototype of the Scooba floor washer.
The product has many of the features of iRobot's 3-year-old Roomba vacuum, but Scooba is more complicated because it's designed to automatically vacuum, scrub and dry hard floors, rather than simply vacuum them.
Scooba will be available by special mail order in limited quantities over the holidays, said iRobot Chief Executive Colin Angle. Retail sales are expected to begin early in 2006.
At 13 inches in diameter and four inches high, Scooba resembles the disc-shaped Roomba and features two tanks: one for water and cleaning fluid developed by Oakland, Calif.-based Clorox, the other for dirty water.
Scooba blows crumbs into the dirty water tank. For stains, water and cleaning fluid are scrubbed onto the floor as the robot's front end passes over. The liquid is then sucked into the dirty water tank as the rear passes over.
About 30 iRobot engineers spent three years tackling challenges such as how to prevent the robot's wheels from slipping on cleaning fluid and leaving tracks behind, Angle said.
Scooba's price has not been set, but Angle said it would be comparable to Roomba, which sells from $150 to $300 for various models.
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