iRobot’s new Roomba knows where it’s going

iRobot’s new Roomba knows where it’s going

The i7+ features much-improved mapping and a self-emptying bin

he Roomba i7+ looks like, well, it looks like a Roomba. There are few factors distinguishing the product from the last several generations. The rollers are bright green, along with a large Automatic Dirt Disposal section just below. Beyond that, however, it’s nearly identical to what you’ll already find on store shelves.

For iRobot co-founder and CEO Colin Angle, however, the product represents the culmination of the company’s nearly 30-year existence. “This is the thing,” the executive explains. “This is the Roomba I’ve always wanted to make.”

The latest version of the robotic vacuum represents a number of advances over its predecessor, chief among them the ability to know where it’s going and remember where it’s been. It’s a skill Angle has teased for a few years now, including several appearances on TechCrunch — and high atop the list of the line’s most requested features.

The feature has been teased in past versions of the home robot. Last year, the company added Clean Mapping to the 900 series. The feature lets the robot create an indoor map of the home, showing where the Roomba spent most of its time and helping it return home to the dock, even when it’s on the other side of the home.

With the i7+, however, Roomba will be able to recognize different rooms.

“The idea that we can build this system that remembers what’s going on in the home is the big leap,” Angle tells TechCrunch. “The 900 built maps, but didn’t remember them. The goal of organizing information to enable the smart home required this robot. For the company, it’s huge. We transition from being a company that is building robots to a company that is organizing spatial information in the home. There’s a data dimension to the company that can now actually be talked about.”

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