It’s one of the ironies of technology: If you own a robot vacuum cleaner, you need to scurry around the house pre-cleaning the floor of cables, socks, and other byproducts of our busy lives so the vacuum doesn’t end up getting stuck on them.
Ecovacs says it’s solved this problem with an artificial intelligence system in its new Deebot Ozmo 960. The robot vacuum cleaner packs an object and environmental recognition system that can recognize “select” obstacles lying on the floor and avoid them. The list includes things like socks, charging docks, and cables.
If it works, it could be quite useful.
Many robot vacuum cleaners already have sensors that detect and avoid large objects, such as table legs and chairs, and some even map out their surroundings for more efficient cleaning.
But leave a charging cable lying on the floor and it’s almost guaranteed the vacuum will find it, run over it, and end up with it tangled around its brushes, unable to continue cleaning until its owner comes home and rescues it.
Recognizing the privacy concerns around collecting images in a home, Ecovacs says the cleaner won’t store any images and won’t send them back to the company, although you can opt-in to provide data to help improve the AI technology.
The Deebot Ozmo 960 was announced at CES on Monday but it won’t be available until summer 2019, so until then, check out TechHive’s picks of the best robot vacuum cleaners currently on the market.
At about the same time, Ecovacs is also planning to launch its latest mobile air purifier, the Atmobot.
The device uses ultrasonic and laser sensors to create a map of its surroundings so it can navigate around a house like the robot vacuum cleaners. Using the map, it picks out a spot to park itself and run its air purification system and, once air quality is acceptable, moves to another spot in the home to run again.
The result, says Ecovacs, will be clean and fresh air throughout the house without the hassle of moving a portable air purifier from room to room.
If users don’t like the spot the Atmobot chooses, they can set a new one manually using the companion app.
Martyn Williams produces technology news and product reviews in text and video for PC World, Macworld, and TechHive from his home outside Washington D.C.. He previously worked for IDG News Service as a correspondent in San Francisco and Tokyo and has reported on technology news from across Asia and Europe.