In the 1950’s we imagined a future in which everyday chores would be done by robots. Remember R2D2, and from the Jetsons, Rosie the robot maid? Today, people don’t have time or energy to keep up with household tasks and the friendly Roomba is a  perfect companion for every homemaker.

A big flat disk about 13 inches across, this robot’s been around for three generations! Well, at least in robot years. The first Roomba was introduced in 2002.

When you turn the Roomba on, it cheerfully beeps, sings a little melody, “looking” at you with its red lights. The first generation Roomba had to be given the size and perimeter of the room. However,   second and third generation Roombas calculate the size and shape of the room using a red laser light and recognizes and avoids obstacles.   Just four inches high, and goes underneath beds and furniture. It’s unlikely but possible for the Roomba to get stuck in a spot that it can’t get out of, causing the poor little machine  to sing a mournful tune, calling its owner to come and retrieve it.

This cheerful robot has several cleaning methods. It can move in a spiral pattern to cover every square inch of space. Using the shape of the room as a guide, a cleaning pattern is chosen, and the Roomba starts a spiral clean or may go back and forth in straight lines. It’s even so “intelligent”, it sniffs out especially dirty spots and then treats them as needed.

When a room or section is completed, the robot sings out a happy little distinctively-toned victory song, letting its owner know the task is finished.  That announcement made, it moves on to the next assigned section.
Some second and third generation Roombas are so advanced they return on their own to their charging base when all vacuuming tasks are done. Battery operated, it needs to charge up occasionally.  Instead of the owner having to trouble with plugging it in, the able Roomba humbly finds its way back to its charging base. If the robot finds itself lost or unable to proceed, it courteously sing out the “I’m out of options” song out and then shuts itself down, perhaps with a little inner robot sigh.

This little guy is really easy to maintain. You simply remove the full bag and replace with a new one. You don’t have to worry about it hurting itself. It has sensors that tell it when its approaching sudden drops like a stairway. When signaled of an impending fall it just turns right around.

The great thing about the Roomba is that it not only saves time and effort for the young and able, but is especially helpful for elderly and disabled people, who often find vacuuming tasks both painful and difficult.

One of these robot friends makes a terrific gift. Depending on the model, expect to pay from a low of $100 to a high approaching $400.

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