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iRobot is the new ‘brain’ of Roomba robot vacuums, and it won’t offer new features, but big dreams

Two years after launching iRobot Genius Home Intelligence, an AI-powered platform for robot vacuums and mops, iRobot has announced its new software: iRobot OS. According to Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, this operating system for his Roomba robot vacuums will take them to the next level, giving home robots a better understanding of the owner’s home and habits so they can clean better and smarter.

It would just be a rebranding of its two-year-old AI platform Genius Home Intelligence, but the company wants it to become a leading computer vision platform that differentiates its robotic vacuums and mops and extends to other products, such as air purifiers.

Remember that when we talk about a “smart” robot vacuum cleaner, we are primarily talking about the performance of its movement. We can distinguish between different modes of navigation:

  • Random browsing: The robot moves randomly around the house and will change direction as soon as it encounters an obstacle. The robot makes straight or spiral lines until it comes into contact with an object. These robots are not the smartest but they are often inexpensive and with good autonomy, they will do their job properly;
  • laser navigation: We can consider a “smart” robot vacuum cleaner when we talk about laser navigation and mapping. These robots have a small turret (laser rangefinder) on top of the structure that scans rooms and also helps detect and avoid obstacles. This also allows some sophisticated robots to assess the height of an obstacle (sofa, bed) and determine whether or not it will have the possibility to pass under it. The robot will also be more efficient with optimized trajectories thus avoiding going back to the same place multiple times;
  • Camera navigation: The latest innovation, it offers your home to be recognized and cleaned more efficiently. He anticipates obstacles better and finds his way better. In addition, it also offers the ability to watch the bot live via video streams for certain models. Here also it saves the areas it has already passed, and therefore its autonomy will be improved to clean larger areas;
  • Artificial intelligence: Often associated with one or more cameras, the robotic vacuum cleaners equipped with them are the most sophisticated thing at the moment and deliver the best performance. The algorithm will recognize objects (cables, toys, sock around) and clean the room as much as possible, avoiding getting stuck or seeing the suction nozzle clogged with an object.
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Vacuum cleaners, which use smart sensors to operate independently, have grown in popularity over the past few years. However, a team of academics from the National University of Singapore and the University of Maryland published a research paper titled Spying with a robotic vacuum cleaner: eavesdropping with lidar sensors (Spy with a robot vacuum cleaner : listen through LiDAR sensors). Under the supervision of Professor John Han, Sriram Sami took the lead in this research with the assistance of Yimin Dai, Sean Rui Xiang Tan and Nirupam Roy.

The hack, which the researchers dubbed LidarPhone, is what’s known as a side channel attack. It happens when hackers exploit the strengths involved rather than exploiting weaknesses or weaknesses, but for some reason other than reasonably expected. In this case, they use the LiDAR sensors of the “smart” robotic vacuum cleaner, whose function is to help the device navigate and map its environment, acting as a microphone and secretly recording conversations.

The iRobot operating system does not yet include any new features, but it represents iRobot’s focus on “superior software intelligence,” said Colin Angel, president and CEO of iRobot, in a statement shared during the Roomba announcement.

In the current situation, iRobot-powered Roomba devices use computer vision to avoid up to 80 “common items,” depending on the product, such as ropes, socks and how many important animal waste. The operating system is pet-friendly with features like “exclusion zones” to prevent your dog from fighting with your robot vacuum when it’s near the bowl.

He can also recommend cleaning schedules. The Roomba J7 series, released in September, uses a front camera and computer vision to better understand the layout of its surroundings than any other iRobot.

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It’s also worth noting that the Robot has added new features to the Wi-Fi-connected Roomba vacuum cleaner and Braava jet mops. These new features include the J7 Roomba series’ ability to dodge clothes, towels and other new items, as well as customization options, such as room-specific cleaning preferences, Siri Shortcuts integration, baby and pet controls, and Do Not Disturb.

In an interview, Angle said that the iRobot operating system will soon be integrated into other iRobot products, including Aeris air purifiers. Angle said the company develops Aeris products to know when no one’s around, so it can use turbo mode and then a quieter mode when someone is home. iRobot acquired Aeris in November. Angle has also expressed an openness to using the Matter smart home standard to find a better context for using its technology. iRobot will be active in Matter and its IP protocol will be one of the options to implement this vision.

Angle also raised the possibility that robots could “arrive and perform physical tasks around the house,” but he didn’t detail any concrete plans. Last week, Dyson announced that it is working on robots with arms that can pick up things and that it hopes to launch these consumer robots within the next 10 years. Although appliances are getting smarter and smarter, they do not always guarantee a perfect home. The breeding of obstructions is a problem in the same way that there are a number of very thick mats. Although engineers are designing more and more advanced robotic vacuum cleaners, they do not replace the human hand.

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source : iRobot

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See also:

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