General info about the Roomba

The Roomba is a battery powered vacuum cleaner produced by technology company iRobot. Using an array of sensors, the Roomba is able to autonomously clean any and all types of flooring surfaces.

The ease of use is one of the most talked about features of the Roomba; you simply place the Roomba on the floor of the room that needs cleaning, press the clean button, and set the Roomba loose to do the job. Alternatively, on models like the 780, you can simply schedule the job ahead of time and let the Roomba automatically go to work whenever is convenient.

Scheduling Roomba


The Roomba’s array of numerous sensors allows it to navigate a room efficiently. First, it will determine the size of the room it needs to clean. Then, using it’s impact and infrared sensors, the robot vacuum cleaner is able to detect and avoid obstacles as it travels around , sucking up any dirt and dust in it’s path. It can even locate dirt by employing acoustics, so no grime is left behind and no spot left unmolested by the peppy little machine. Then, when the job is complete, or the batteries have been depleted, Roomba will happily steer itself back to it’s base station to recharge for three hours and be ready for the next assignment.

Besides it’s dazzling sensor payload, the Roomba also can be fitted with a seemingly endless array of add-ons, allowing it to adapt to any situation.

  • A remote control puts the user in charge from anywhere in the house.
  • The Virtual Wall can set a boundary that the Roomba obeys, limiting it’s function to where the user desires.
  • The Virtual Wall Halo allows the machine to avoid hazards like pet food bowls, flower vases, and other small objects.
  • The Advanced Power System battery beefs up the bot, giving it the strength for 200 minutes of continuous cleaning before needing a charge.
  • And of course, RoombaFX, a C# object class that allows the user to program his vacuum to perform any task imaginable. Using the serial adapter on the tiny sweeper and the previously mentioned RoombaFX, a user can upload his custom code to the unit.

However, the Roomba is not perfect. For example, it does not perform well on shag or other very deep-fiber carpets. And while current models are able to untangle themselves from cabling, string, or other vacuum hazards, early models like the 530 can simply get stuck. In the event of the little robo-cleaner reaching an impasse, it will emit an error beep that allows it’s owner to locate it, since it is designed to have a low enough clearance to venture under couches, beds, and other place where it may not be seen while disabled. It can also be felled by accumulating too much tangled hair in it’s brush, but this can be avoided by occasional user maintenance, such as cleaning the brushes.

Removing the brushes from Roomba


The Roomba is powered by rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries. Like all NiMH batteries, capacity decreases over time, as the charge and discharge cycle is repeated. The battery powers the brush and drive of the unit, it’s sensors, and it’s aforementioned alert feature. It is advised that if the user is planning on being away for a long period of time, the Roomba should be deactivated. As the alert feature runs indefinitely until rescue, a Roomba that is left to it’s own devices may become stuck, and subsequently run the alert until it’s power cells are discharged completely. And an NiMH battery left discharged for long periods may need to be replaced.

All in all, the Roomba is a wonderful for tool for automating the needed, but time consuming, task of vacuuming. And while it isn’t perfect, it is close and this spunky little robot could be a wonderful addition to any home.

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