iRobot introduced their 900 series of Roomba robot vacuums last year with the 980, a Wi-Fi connected vacuum with a high-powered motor and an efficient new navigation system. This year, they’re looking to deliver many of those features at a lower price with the Roomba 960 — it’s still not what we’d call cheap, but robot vacuums are packing some pretty serious technology these days.
The Roomba 960 has both of the marquee new features introduced in the 980 — Wi-Fi connectivity and the new vSLAM navigation system. Wi-Fi connectivity means that it can be used with the iRobot Home app, which allows users to start or stop the vacuum remotely and create cleaning schedules. The vSLAM navigation system uses cameras and sensors on the Roomba to create a virtual map of rooms, including obstacles. Instead of bouncing around the room randomly, the Roomba can now take stock of its surroundings and intelligently create a path that maximizes area cleaned while minimizing battery use and, ultimately, electricity used to charge the vacuum.
The 960 only falls behind the 980 in terms of, well, the one job it’s made for. The motor isn’t quite as powerful, so suction and cleaning power won’t be as great, but it’s not totally bereft of new cleaning features. iRobot’s Dirt Detect Series II, which finds especially dirty spots on the carpet and spends more time cleaning them, is on the 960, as are the debris extractors that prevent hair from getting tangled up in the underside of the Roomba. The Roomba 960 also can’t match the 980’s two-hour battery life.
In addition to the Roomba 960, iRobot also announced last week that the iRobot Home app will now work the Braava Jet, their mopping robot. The Roomba 980, 960, and Braava Jet are for now the only three robot cleaners that work with the app.
The Roomba 960 is available now in the United States and Canada for $700 (the Roomba 980 goes for $900), and will be available in Japan and some countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in Q3 2016.