The Botvac Connected robot vacuum cleaner that Neato Robotics will be showing off at the IFA trade show later this week will deliver a couple of firsts, according to the company: It’s the first house-cleaning automaton to feature Wi-Fi connectivity, and it’s the first to sport a lithium-ion battery.
As with earlier models in the Botvac line, the Botvac Connected will use a laser to navigate its way around your home, automatically moving from one room to another—transitioning from hard surfaces to carpet—and cleaning the floors in a linear pattern.
“Other robot vacuums bounce around and sometimes cover the same places several times while missing others,” said Neato VP of Marketing Nancy Nunziati in an embargoed briefing last week. “With Neato’s Botvision technology, a laser on top of the vacuum spins five times a second to build a map of the room. The vacuum performs real-time object recognition so that it doesn’t bump into things, and it can detect stairs and ledges, so you don’t need to worry about it falling down; but it can also go underneath beds and other furniture to clean places conventional vacuums can’t reach.”
Nunziati said the company added Wi-Fi connectivity to enable users to program the vacuum using a smartphone or tablet. “You can start it, you can stop or pause it, and it will also keep you informed of what it’s doing via push notifications. You can also control the robot remotely for spot cleaning.”
Switching from a nickel-metal-hydride battery to a lithium-ion model gives the new vacuum longer run times, and the battery itself lasts longer, according to Nunziati. “Battery life varies according to floorplan, floor type, the amount of furniture in the room, and other factors,” Nunziati said. “But it will clean a 4500- to 5000-square foot home in three circuits, automatically returning to its base twice to recharge its battery.”
Nunziati said the Botvac Connect’s D-shaped form factor is an improvement over the more typical round designs because it enabled the vacuum’s designers to put a long brush in the front of the unit, while leaving room for an extra-large dirt bin. “A lot of other robots out there are really just sweepers,” Nunziati said. “Ours is a true vacuum system.”
The Botvac Connect has two cleaning modes: Eco and turbo. The former operates over a longer but quieter cleaning cycle, and the latter uses more powerful suction.
The Botvac Connect uses two types of brushes, too. The Combo brush is a helical type consisting of both a blade and bristles; it’s particularly well suited to picking up pet hair. The Spiral blade is better for picking up dust. Neato has also developed a new pleated filter than can trap very fine particles, as small as 0.3 microns. “If you vacuum daily and don’t have pets, cleaning the filter once a week should be good enough,” Nunziati said. “If you vacuum once a week, you should clean the filter every time.”
The Neato Botvac Connect will sell for $699 when it reaches the market in the fourth quarter of 2015.
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Michael is TechHive's lead editor, with 30+ years of experience covering the tech industry, focusing on the smart home, home audio, and home theater. He built his own smart home in 2007 and used it as a real-world test lab for product reviews. Following a relocation to the Pacific Northwest, he is now converting his new home, an 1890 Victorian bungalow, into a modern smart home.