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|11th October 2008, 18:29||#1|
the story of my robot butler - roomba !!
Ever since we have been kids we always had a dream that one day there will be robots doing all our mundane chores.
Such was people's fancy with these automated servants of the future that many years ago in the early 80s, one neighbor aunty in good ol' bombay told my mom that soon she will have a machine that will wash all her clothes and hang them on the clothes line to dry well ofcourse she was referring to the washing/drying machine and thats a fairly regular "robot" we all have nowadays. I have one of those 100% dry washing machines bought in an emergency as the maid didnt show up for few days and I had to suddenly fly to US and needed to carry some clean dry clothes !! Yeah i am bit nuts about gadgets hehe!
So mid year 2008, I started thinking about what new gadgets I could pick up on my upcoming US trip in august.
It had to be a robot and all thoughts went to a certain sony aibo, which obviously was end of life. But wait there was something similar, it was called pleo ( PleoWorld - The Home of Pleo, the Robotic Baby Dinosaur from UGOBE Life Forms ), however this was no dog, it was a dinosaur!! I thought to myself, a dog is good, but since i keep travelling and have no one to take care of a real pet, might as well get a robot mutt with real emotions. But a dinosaur, i need to think hard, no matter how cute it is. Besides it wasn't available in stores, which means I would need to order online, get it delivered to a friend's place in US and then hope its not broken. Thats against a cardinal rule I follow when I buy abroad. I like to buy from the store, ensure it works in the hotel, and then get it back or if it does not return it to store and get a replacement asap. I don't want to end up with a lemon and then figure out how to ship it back, etc, etc in my short 1-2 week trips. I ensure I do this with all my gagdets bought abroad - archos pvr, ps3, xbox360, external harddisk, et al.
So pleo was out of my shopping list. Luckily I spotted another robot. This had to be it. It was no pooch, it was no dinosaur, it was actually a useful robot. It was made by the irobot corporation and called the roomba ( iRobot Corporation: Robots ) . It was a cleaning robot, one which vaccum cleaned all your floors and carpets. One look at the video ( http://cdn.irobot.com/filelibrary/Ro.../560video.html ) and I was sold. A real robot which also cleaned my floors, made sense and I thought I'd get one for my mom (as we have pets in pune and its a big house) and one for my bachelor pad in bangy.
Now at 299usd for the lowest end roomba 530 (no scheduling feature on 530), it wasn't cheap and the maid anyays does a good job. But I figured in the name of robotics, science and technology I want my own robot butler. So there I was in san francisco in aug and found a bunch of stores like frys, best buy, which sell these and picked mine from "bed, bath and beyond". The damn box was so big, I knew I could get one only for my mom now as an experiment. I figured I'll get myself the top-end variant with all the neat nuances on my next trip.
Tested the thing in the hilton hotel room and it served me well for 1 week. So much so that room service called me and asked me if I really needed my room's carpet cleaned as the the robot I had was doing a good job.
Now it was time to come back and I knew there was no way I could get past india customs with the big roomba box. I was anyways past the allowed 25k INR limit with a dozen or more bluray discs and the 1tb ext harddisk (tip - storage media is not dutiable good though). So I chucked the roomba box, bought a nice targus backpack, put in my laptop, the roomba, the ext hdd and all my blurays in it. Must say it was heavy, but safer than putting all these things in mishandled check-in baggage.
At the sfo airport, I got stuck in scanning, as they felt I had motorised bomb in my bag or something !! Anyways I was politely told to "step away from the bag SIRRR" I was like man I am screwed !! They opened the bag and saw the roomba and where like "oh you got one of those robot vaccum cleaners, thats ok" Ahh saved didnt want to leave my robot butler back to keep the sfo airport clean !!
Back in bombay when I landed, the customs people were barely waking up on a nice sunday. I quickly picked up my priority tagged baggages (yeah benefits of flying jetairways) and ran towards customs before they were alert and actively scanning bags. Put my bags in the customs scanning belt and waited in anticipation. There was no one manning the scanner screens, just one hawaldar types. He noticed that and said "what is this round thing, I said FRISBEE" He said "ok go" phew !! yipee out of the airport.
Back in pune, gave the roomba to my mom as her birthday gift. She was quite taken aback that such useful robots even existed. She just knew there was the washing machine, arnold shivajinagar and yes the useless ugly sony aibo !! Hooked roomba in to charge using 500w step up/down transformer (pure sine wave model picked up at frys) and then sent roomba out and sure enough it sucked in all dust under the beds, dog hair, etc. All this before the maid came in to work. The next few days the maid just did mopping no sweeping. My pets adjusted quite well - the usually ferocious micky (dog) didnt care and the 2 parrots (chunchu & punchu) occassionally chirped "ganda bacha" (dirty kid) when roomba went under their cages, thats all.
However mom said, nah I don't need the roomba, who is going to clean the roomba after it cleans the house. All my explainations on how easy it was went to waste. She was happy with the maid sweeping and mopping in one go. Well I thought maybe she is not robot ready, atleast till the roomba cleans itself after cleaning the house !!
So there we are, my roomba butler journeyed from pune to bangalore (minor hiccup at pune airport - as they had no idea what it was till i turned it on and showed it clean the airport floor for a good 2 mins, much to the suprise of the waiting passengers :-) )
Roomba now cleans the bangy house daily and as I have no pets, the roomba itself needs its vaccum bin emptied a mere once a week. I did have a small side brush break (which i promptly glued back together) and its still working top notch. The irobot support (i think based in mysore) was very supportive and are shipping a spare side brush module to my friends place in US (ofcourse they don't know I am in india !!) The entire roomba design is quite modular and I opened it up completely to see all motors and modules (easily replaceable with spares)
So thats the story of my robotic butler - roomba. Maybe one day I will get roomba a female companion who does all the mopping (the irobot scooba)
If you read till here, thanks for reading and neglecting any bad spelling !!
Have a good day with your gadgets and cars!!
Last edited by jassi : 11th October 2008 at 18:34.
|11th October 2008, 18:48||#2|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: cincinnati, jabalpur,chennai
Thanked: 188 Times
cool man. I have heard new models are really good.
I had a really primitive version which I didn't think was powerful enough after a few minutes. and it had to be directed using a remote. auto mode didn't work well. i think these are made for carpeted floor, but they perform well on floor like your's though.
|11th October 2008, 18:58||#3|
yep the new 500 series has plenty of cool new features like auto return to charger, virtual walls to prevent it from going to unwanted areas, and yes the higher end ones can be scheduled for time of day/week and also if needed controlled by remote I am sure the video on their site says it all ( http://cdn.irobot.com/filelibrary/Ro.../560video.html )
Besides its quite efficient in auto mode and yes it does a fantastic job on my rugs as well as tiled flooring
|11th October 2008, 23:13||#5|
Join Date: Apr 2005
Thanked: 40 Times
holy cow.. thats nice !!
Need one of those in my house immediately - lot of dust gathers in a day as our place is pretty close to main road and we never keep the sliding windows completely closed.
PS: your parrots are a genius pair.. ganda baccha - bloody awesome !!
|11th October 2008, 23:30||#6|
@hkanitkar - yeah parrots have by hearted a lot of words we say (especially mom's words as they are around her all day) and are good at using them at the right situation
Last edited by jassi : 11th October 2008 at 23:31.
|12th October 2008, 00:17||#8|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Thanked: 21,335 Times
Yes, I have considered these before, but gave up because of the difficulty in getting consumables and spares. Unless they provide sales and support in India, it is impractical.
|12th October 2008, 00:31||#9|
I do agree on the spares part. But there aren't any spares as such needed. They give free brushes with the box. Yes if something breaks down and you need support, then you better have a friend's address in US handy or better still register it online on a US addy if you buy in US. Support people are very helpful and the warranty covers everything. They don't waste time on troubleshooting, a simple email on your issue and they send the whole replacement module without probing much (very good support). Once you get the new module, just unscrew the spoilt module and screw on the replacement and you are good to go. Like I said the new 500 series is completely modular (good for exploring and learning too ) and allows easy replacement of spoilt parts (cleaning module, side brush module, wheel module)
|12th October 2008, 00:32||#10|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Oct 2005
Thanked: 28 Times
|12th October 2008, 01:00||#11|
|13th October 2008, 14:15||#15|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2007
Thanked: 22 Times
Fantastic taste and narration as well !!
I admit the fact it is actually very difficult to make your mom/wife understand the it really cleans, else they'll do manual cleaning after such robotic cleaning assuming the floor haven't been cleaned properly
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