AI News, Neato Adds Persistent, Actionable Maps to New D7 Robot Vacuum

Neato Adds Persistent, Actionable Maps to New D7 Robot Vacuum

Vacuums are the most successful consumer home robots ever, and they’re likely to remain so for quite a while, simply because they do quite a good job at keeping your floors clean in a reliable and affordable way.

Every time the robot cleans, the map gets refined and updated, but they key here is that it persists: The D7 remembers the layout of your home, allowing it to recognize where the virtual no-go lines are and respond to them as it cleans, doing away with physical barriers.

Neato is planning to make incremental app upgrades to this mapping functionality every six months or so, and you can easily imagine the kinds of things they could add beyond these very simple lines that the robot shouldn’t cross.

At first, it’ll almost certainly be you segmenting and labeling rooms by hand so that you can tell your D7, “Go clean the kitchen.” It’s not hard to imagine how the robot might soon be able to tell what kind of room it’s in (bedroom, dining room, kitchen, etc.) through the patterns that it detects with its sensors.

Beyond vacuuming, the D7’s understanding of your floor could potentially let it interact much more effectively with other smart home devices, but doing that would likely involve the sharing of map data, an idea that recently created a bit of a (way overblown) kerfuffle for iRobot, and Neato is looking to avoid any misunderstandings.

“We make money by selling robots, and we sell more robots when people are happy with them.” There may be some people who are less than happy with the D7, and that would be owners of Neato’s earlier top of the line (and quite expensive) vacuums, since the persistent maps functionality is supported only by the D7.

It’s certainly true that the D7 has a more powerful computer to help it do map things, but since the Connected makes what looks to be essentially the same map, it’s a bit disappointing that Neato isn’t making this work for people who invested in the previous Connected model (although Connected owners will get an app refresh that does include IFTTT integration).

I know, Neato has to make money and sell new robots so that they can continue innovating and whatnot, but it seems like the best we can hope for (and this is my hope, not Neato’s) is that some of the new features might be available as in-app paid upgrades at some point.

With that in mind, we asked Marini whether Neato is going to stick with vacuums, or whether they’re starting to look at other robotic applications for the home: This is a bit of a delicate question, because we think we know what we want to do next, but it might be a little too early to talk about.

You can tell this robot vacuum where not to clean—and that’s why it’s awesome

Neato, the makers of our favorite smart robot vacuum (available at Amazon) just introduced the Botvac Connected D7.

Like other robot vacuums, the D7 creates a virtual map of your home so you can command it to clean certain rooms and ignore others.

The new Neato also uses the map to return to its charger when necessary, which expands its cleaning range up to 5,000 square feet.

But, unlike other robots that require physical devices as barriers—usually a magnetic strip or a battery-powered “virtual wall”—the D7’s No-Go Lines can be programmed in the smartphone app.

The Download

The cause: The study, which was carried out by researchers at Stanford and Uber and has not undergone peer review, attributed the difference in pay to fact that male Uber drivers: —Are more likely to drive in higher-paying locations —Drive faster —Take on trips with shorter distances to the rider —Chose to drive longer trips All of these are variables in the formula Uber uses to calculate driver wages, and the study showed they all tilted in men’s favor (the study claims men earn $21.28 an hour, on average).

The Best Thing to Ever Happen to Robot Vacuums Is This New Feature

But even with upgraded smarts and better sensors, modern robovacs can still wander into places you don’t want them, so Neato is introducing a potentially brilliant new feature letting you limit the travels of its newest robovac by drawing virtual boundary lines in an app.

Neato claims its new Botvac D7 Connected is the most advanced robotic cleaner the company has ever developed, but using a suite of sensors to map out a room and plan the most efficient cleaning routine is a feature we’ve seen before, and come to expect in a high-end robovac.

In the past, preventing a robovac from going into a specific room, or from tumbling down stairs, required you to install sensor fences, put tape across the floor, or just put a physical obstacle in the robot’s path.

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