You know all those housekeeping habits you desperately tell yourself can wait until tomorrow? Like sifting through murky gutters and crawling around trying to vacuum under the bed? Well, there’s a robot for that. Yes, those mechanized maids from our childhood cartoons—so far-fetched at the time—actually exist. One press of a button and your robot cleans continuously without charging you by the hour or judging your lack of—or lapse of—domestic duties. And it’s super-cool. Here are a few high-tech helpers to consider:
Luckily, IRobot, the makers of search-and-rescue robots for the military, created the Roomba for those of us searching for a way to rescue our filthy floors. This 8 lb., disc-shaped, floorbot resembling a giant hockey puck randomly zigs and zags across every section of the floor, multiple times, vacuuming up dirt and debris without any human help. Roomba gently bumps against objects in its path and then changes course until its dirt-detecting sensors ensure the entire floor has been swept. And Roomba comes with a little home base/charger—like a little robot garage—that it automatically returns to when the job is done or its battery is running low. So cool. Wouldn’t it be great if children’s toys put themselves away, too? Roomba costs anywhere from $400 to $700, depending on the model, which isn’t unreasonable, considering it can be programmed to clean every day, at any time, all year long. This incredible, rechargeable robot will definitely keep your floors looking clean, and more importantly, it will keep you from doing them.
Another helpful member of the IRobot floorbot family is the Scooba 450. This cool cousin of the Roomba, also disc-shaped and similar in size, is a multitasker, delivering a three-cycle cleaning instead of just one. Scooba 450 sweeps, scrubs, and squeegees hard floors as it wiggles around the room, brushing away stains and spills. And it has two separate tanks—one for clean water and the other for dirty water—to ensure the sucked-up, funky water never recirculates to the freshly scrubbed floors. Like the Roomba, the Scooba 450 definitely gets the job done, but unlike the Roomba, it doesn’t return to a clever charger on its own and there are no scheduling options or customizations. But this $600 floorbot will wash away 99% of all common bacteria lurking beneath your feet, so it’s practically perfect. Can your hands and knees do that?
The smallest member of IRobot’s floorbot family is the Braava, which takes a more direct approach by completing light cleaning in one go—no fancy zig-zagging or wiggling its way across the room multiple times with no set pattern. And it doesn’t suck. Unlike the Roomba and Scooba 450, the half-sized, 4 lb. Braava uses dry or damp cloths instead of suction to clean hard floors with ease. Just press the SWEEP or MOP button, and it moves accordingly—in straight, forward lines with dry cloths for SWEEP and back-and-forth with damp cloths for MOP. It’s super-quiet as it cleans so there’s no noisy disruption to your day because you hardly even know it’s nearby. So don’t trip over it! Like the Scooba 450, there are no customization options and it doesn’t return to a charging station. Braava merely beeps when the job is done, so you’ll have to find it to recharge the battery. But for $300 it does a lot of good with little human intervention. Bravo, Braava!
The world’s first robotic sprinkler is perfect for those of us with day jobs who can’t tend to the garden regularly. Droplet, a 4 lb. half sphere which attaches to the end of a hose, combines robotics with cloud computing and connected services to keep your plants healthy without wasting water. In fact, this robot is so efficient it can cut your water consumption by 90%. Simply find your nearest smart device—smartphone, tablet, or laptop—and go on the Droplet website to follow the easy set-up instructions. Once you input the type of plants in your yard and where they are located, this remarkable robot accesses weather station and biological plant data to identify each plant it approaches and then gives it the exact amount of water it needs—no overwatering or underwatering. And you can set Droplet in motion from your smartphone, wherever you are, so there’s no more returning home after a scorcher to a crispy, wilty, garden-gone-bad.
To some of us, cleaning the gutters is as crappy as cleaning the toilets. Who wants to climb a rickety, old ladder to clear out smelly, globby gunk? Of course, if we did it more often, it wouldn’t be so bad, but we don’t, so it is—unless we get the Looj 330. IRobot’s remote-controlled Looj 330 is a15.6 inches long, 2.9 inches wide, and 1.9 inches high gutter-cleaning machine designed to get down-and-dirty in your gutter. For just $300, this waterproof robot rolls along the bottom of your gutter, breaking up clogs, sweeping away debris, and flinging out the filth so you won’t even get your hands dirty. Its four-piece auger, two sweeper brushes, and durable, rubber flaps make the Looj 330’s muck slinging much easier than if you used your own mitts. Plus, it’s controlled by a remote, so there’s no need to climb up and down, up and down, up and down, moving a ladder every few feet. Unfortunately, there’s some clean up involved once the glop hits the ground, but otherwise, you might actually enjoy guiding your toy-like, Looj 330 through the smelly, globby gutter. And maybe you won’t hate cleaningit—as much.
Those of us who have trouble getting out of bed probably have mixed feelings about owning this adorable, little robot. Sure, we love what it does, it’s the how we might hate. The Nanda Clocky, an alarm clock on wheels, sounds a shrill alert, allows one bonus press of the snooze button, and then sounds the alarm again as it rolls off the nightstand and takes off across the floor to hide, forcing the user to get up to shut it up. And the Nanda Clocky’s “face”, made up of two buttons and a display screen, appears to be laughing at your expense—$40, to be exact—as it engages you in an a.m. game of Hide-And-Seek you probably won’t enjoy. But if you have a sense of humor and an incurable addiction to the snooze button, this mechanized, Help On Wheels could be a lifesaver—and a job saver.
Amazon Echo (Alexa)
This bot is your intelligent personal assistant, if not your new best friend. Alexa was developed by Amazon Lab126. She is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks and providing real-time information like weather, traffic and more. Want to stream your favorite song while getting ready for work in the morning? No problem, just ask Alexa.
LG’s Hub Robot
Much like Alexa, the LG Hub Robot uses a voice-assistance platform to make life a little easier for its users. However, the LG Hub Robot goes a step further by adding a screen and a little bit of personality. The bot can dance along with music and display its own facial expressions upon interaction.
Can’t stand the thought of leaving your dog home alone all day? Furbo allows you to see and interact with Fido even when you’re not home. The camera allows you to see, talk and toss treats to your dog. There’s also a HD night vision feature that allows you to see your dog even when it’s late at night.