One Fifth of Global Vacuum Cleaners are Robots, iRobot Says


If you’re still pushing a vacuum cleaner around an apartment, you may be shocked to learn that you’re in a shrinking number. Robot vacuum cleaners, once considered a luxurious oddity, now account for a large percentage of global sales. At the TechCrunch Beijing conference on Monday, iRobot CEO Colin Angle claimed that 20 percent of the world’s vacuum cleaners are robots. Of those that are robots, 70 percent are from iRobot’s Roomba range, with 14 million units sold to date.

It’s a notable area of daily life where automation is rapidly making housework obsolete. The original model, introduced in 2002, was fairly basic, but more recent models hook up to smartphones and includes artificial intelligence visual mapping. The maps created by the self-driving machine help make it appear more lifelike, and is one of the major challenges when it comes to robot automation.

“We not only create the vacuum, but is also creating the person that pushes it: A.I.,” Angle said. “This requires more sensors than any other players in the market because we’re actually trying to make Roomba to mimic the way you vacuum the floor.”

It was only six years ago that Mark had to ask Tom on Parks and Recreation what that floor-cleaning thing was. DJ Roomba became a regular on the show, with Tom’s Roomba-with-an-iPod creation tearing up the floors:

Today, the Roomba has become a household name.

It’s not the only area of daily life where robots are taking over. Self-driving cars are soon expected to take to the streets, while talking sex robots are expected to debut some time over the coming year. From its humble beginnings, the robot vacuum cleaner has helped bring about a future where robots are an everyday part of household life.

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