While there has been evidence that the robot vacuum hostile takeover is in progress, it looks like the humans are still in the driver’s seat thanks to Neato. Their newest robot vacuum, the Botvac Connected, combines the cleaning prowess of their older robot vacuums with new Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to control the vacuum from a smartphone app.
Neato is now a seasoned veteran of the robot vacuum industry, going back to their XV-11 debut at CES 2010. Since then, they’ve been improving cleaning capabilities and mapping and routing technology, all of which is being put to good use in the Botvac Connected, which is making the rounds at IFA 2015. The new vacuum uses Botvision technology, which uses laser scanning, continuous room mapping, and object detection together to avoid obstacles and plan a cleaning route through the house. Of course, everyone in the robot vacuum market is doing this to some extent — the batteries on these things don’t last long, and it’s preferable that the battery life is not wasted on the vacuum running into the same wall 20 times. Neato thinks their system is the best, thanks to a routing system that takes the vacuum in straight lines, cutting down as much as possible on randomness. And, when the vacuum does finally need a recharge, it’ll automatically head back to the dock, then go to the exact spot where it left off to continue cleaning — all without any input from you.
But like we said, we want some input power over these shifty robot vacuum characters. How much control you have over the Botvac Connected depends on where you are. If you’re at home and both your smartphone and the Botvac are connected to your home Wi-Fi network, you can not only program a cleaning schedule and stop or start the robot, but actually tap a spot on the floor for the vacuum to clean immediately. If you aren’t at home, you can still use the companion app, but you’ll only be able to program the robot and stop or start it.
There have been improvements to the actual vacuuming part, too. A new, finer filter keeps in particles as small as 0.3 microns and features a mesh screen that prevents the filter from getting covered in dust. Like other Neato vacuums, the Botvac Connected is D-Shaped to better clean corners and uses SpinFlow technology, which uses spinning brushes and a powerful suction system to clean carpets as well as it does hardwood floors. You also have the option of using eco mode, which lowers the power (and the volume) and increases the battery life from 90 minutes to 120 minutes — perfect if you want to take a nap while the robot vacuum is working. That’s why we buy robot vacuums in the first place, right?
The loyal Neato Botvac Connected will hit stores sometime in Q4 of this year with a $700 price tag. When the robot revolution comes, we know which side this guy will be on.