Roomba vacuums that can mop have been around for a while, but most make you pull the mop before they can vacuum the carpets — unless you like narrowly damp carpets.
iRobot’s newest bot looks to crack this problem with a retractable robot mop arm that can lift itself up and beneath the vacuum to mop.
The two-in-one vacuum mop employs a new combination of acoustic sensors to witness the various types of flooring in a home and “resolve” when to lift its pad to bypass thread counts and lower it to clean complex floor types such as tile and wood.
The Roomba Combo j7 Plus automatically raises its mopping pad up and over the robot when it detects the rug.
It’s the first two-in-one “hands-free” vacuum and mop robot — because, while other firms have mopping pads on the robot vacuums in most other circumstances, the user has to connect the mop to clean the floors manually. They have to empty it when they like it to vacuum carpets.
The Roomba Combo j7 Plus is practically the Roomba j7 Plus robot vacuum with an integrated mopping pad. However, it has a negligibly smaller bin to make room for a 210 ml water tank and a bigger 4,400 mAh battery to assist power the mop. In most other regards, it’s identical.
It has smart space mapping, scheduling, and virtual no-go zones handled in the app, and it works with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Siri Shortcuts for voice control. It also arrives with iRobot’s Clean Base to automatically unload the bin, but users must manually refill the water tank.
A few manufacturers, like Roborock and Ecovacs, have robot vacuum/mops with bottoms that can empty the bin and restock the robot’s water tank. But users may have to extract and attach the mopping pads on those robots, especially if they have denser carpets.
Cleaning jobs for the new Roomba can be customized in the iRobot app, so it can be sent to vacuum the living room and then mop and vacuum the kitchen. Water levels can be adjusted, too, for a deeper clean, and it can be set to clean an area twice.
Interestingly, iRobot chose to add a pad to its flagship robot vacuum rather than produce a new vacuum and mopping bot. As a result, the design appears relatively easy — using aluminum alloy arms to raise and lower the pad and then fold it on the robot — and doesn’t alter the vacuum’s overall glimpse much.
The simplicity of the Combo design means it could be easily incorporated into iRobot’s other models — such as the more budget-friendly Roomba i3 Plus Evo. But, presumably, iRobot started with the j7 as it is iRobot’s “smartest” robot.
Thanks to an AI-powered brain, it does an excellent job of avoiding the most common household items — including pet waste. As a result, it’s less likely to get derailed during a clean and more likely to get the job done.
The intelligence is partly powered by iRobot OS, an AI platform that helps the robot’s navigation system recognize more than 80 everyday objects, according to iRobot. Along with the new robot vac, iRobot is releasing an update to the OS that adds the ability to identify more items.
The company says iRobot OS 5 brings recognition of pet toys, pet bowls, litter boxes, backpacks, shoes/slippers, headphones, clothing, socks, cords, towels, and solid pet waste it was already able to spot and avoid.
The Roomba Combo j7 Plus is using that intelligence with a new ability to automatically detect and recommend areas that might need more cleaning to see and recommend places that need more cleaning. For example, the mopping and vacuuming bot can autonomously suggest new “Clean Zones” around dishwashers, toilets, ovens/stoves, litter boxes, and pet bowls.
The user can then send the robot to clean the zone using the app or an Alexa or Google Assistant voice command. This ability also comes to the Braava Jet m6 and other smart-mapping Roombas.
The compatible Roombas with OS 5 is the ability to skip a room during a cleaning job. So now, rather than shutting down the whole job because the family is trying to watch TV, you can tell the robot to skip this room in the app or with a voice command.
iRobot was recently purchased by Amazon, although the deal has not closed and is currently being investigated by the FTC, partly due to concerns around how Amazon might use the company’s data on consumers’ homes to gain an unfair advantage the space.