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Move aside,Robocop — Robomop is here

Life reviews the vacuuming Roomba 880 and the floor-cleaning Braava 380t robots

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Home-cleaning robots can make domestic chores less of a headache. Here we look at two of the latest two models — the Roomba 880 and Braava 380t. 

The Braava 380t works with a navigation cube to map the room.

The Roomba 880 is a new vacuum model from iRobot. Its most interesting feature is the new AeroForce system, which uses bristle-free extractors that rotate inward for speedier airflow and increased suction. The Roomba also has a removable dust bin, side wheels, a front caster wheel, debris extractors and a spinning side brush. Also included is a dock, two virtual wall/lighthouse sensors, an extra filter, a remote control and batteries.

The display on top of the vacuum has somewhat self-explanatory Dock, Clock, Schedule and Spot buttons. Push the Dock button and the Roomba will find its to the dock, where it will charge itself. You can set the time and date with the Clock button. The Schedule button allows you to program a specific cleaning routine for the week. The Spot button targets small cleaning areas — the robot rotates outward 1m from its starting point, then returns back to where it began, allowing for a deep clean of a particular floor area.

To start cleaning, push Clean and the Roomba 880 immediately goes out to work, making several trips around the room. The robot works fast and makes only a small amount of noise. In my 24m² room, its work cycle was around 40 minutes.

iRobot claims that the Roomba 880 has anti-tangle technology, but it did at times become stuck on various cords in my home.

A soft rubber bumper allows it to safely make contact with furniture. I have a wooden table, but the robot didn't cause any damage to its legs. Thank to its navigation technology, the robot remembers the layout of rooms after travelling around them a few times. It will then stop before hitting furniture and instead move around it. The Roomba did, however, have trouble getting into tight corners.

The Roomba's Cliff Detection sensor means it has no problem with high steps. Smaller ones, though, gave it more trouble. Within 30 minutes it dropped twice from 10cm-high steps. In those instances, it alerted me with a sound. I reset it and let it continue working. 

I set a schedule for the Roomba to clean when I went out. When I returned home, the robot had finished its routine and was back in its dock.

A floor-mopping robot would be a good idea if you really want to clean house. The Braava 380t is a worthy candidate. it moves in a V-shape, back and forth, ensuring an area is mopped two or three times. Its slow movement makes it perfect for laminate floors that cannot withstand harsh scrubbing.

Braava works with a cube that serves as navigator. The cube maps the room and guides the robot as it works. Using another cube allows you to double the Braava's designated mopping area to 180m².

The Braava is very quiet and moves around corners without issue. When it runs into something, three LCD lights on the front blink. The Reservoir Cleaning Pad dispenses liquid throughout the cleaning cycle to keep the Braava's cloth damp. Thus, you cannot leave it alone for too long or the mop will become dry.

Neither the Roomba 880 or the Braava 380t are perfect. Tight corners and solid stains may require a human's elbow grease. On the bright side, both robots perform the brunt of your labours, saving a lot of your precious time.


The Roomba 880 is priced 33,900 baht and Braava 380t is 15,900 baht. Visit www.throbotics.com for more.

The Roomba 880 has new AeroForce technology for more powerful suction.

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