Robot vacuums take the stick to sticks

smart home

A new survey by Ecovacs shows Australian’s are open to embracing robotics, robot vacuums at least, in their home.

Before we get onto the survey let’s recount GadgetGuy’s recent experience with two robot vacuums – the top of the range Samsung VR9300 and Ecovac’s premium Deebot 930 wet’n’dry.

These both clean adequately if you have the right house style (single level apartment), the right flooring (timber or tiles is best), and persist using them frequently rather than weekly.

But they won’t replace a traditional canister or more powerful stick cleaners simply because they cannot do stairs, edge cleaning, don’t play well with different levels of surfaces, shag pile carpets, stray electrical cords, clothes left on the floor and so much more.

Robot vacuums have a way to go

President of Ecovac’s International Business David Qian, 27 acknowledged that there was some way to go. Once Artificial Intelligence, spatial awareness and always-on cameras can be successfully added to robot vacuums the present shortcomings will be overcome.

One of those shortcomings was the current round design that mandated a smaller width brush. “If a vacuum gets stuck it needs to rotate to get out of the area. Once we have AI we can build larger, wider devices,” Qian said.

He politely refused to be drawn on the need for a kangaroo style stair hopper (robotic vacuums can’t do stairs) but hinted at an over-the-air update to have multi-level floor plans, so all you need to do is lift the Deebot up the stairs.

Qian spoke of the AI and awareness advances in mobile phones and felt it would not be long before Ecovacs had similar features. However, it was all a matter of trade-off – battery life for more features and power. There is a lot more work needed in battery technology.

He was equally bullish about Ecovacs intention to have a robot, of some type, in every home.

“We are only in the infancy of the robotics industry – TV has been around for decades. Robotics is still in our first decade of what will likely be an industry that will be around forevermore. So, there’s a lot of room for growth,” he said.

“Think about how much a smartphone is the centre of our daily lives now. I think in the future a robot will take that role in the household. We hope to be a major player to help push that forward,” he added.

“We have a vision of a robot helping every Australian family, freeing up time from cumbersome chores such as window and floor cleaning that will enable people to do more of what they love,“ said Damian Commane, Country Manager ANZ for Ecovacs.

“With 500 world-class R&D employees, a strong and ongoing commitment to R&D and a presence in over 40 markets, it’s fantastic that we are now able to introduce Ecovacs into Australia and we are very hopeful that Australians will embrace the innovation that we are introducing,“ he added.

Back to Ecovacs research

Time – most of us would do almost anything to get out of vacuuming

  • 30% of Australians go to bed everyday wishing for more time. This increases to 39% for 30-49 and drops to 21% over 60.
  • 52% said that the number one thing they would do is spend more time it with their families.
  • 51% between the ages of 30-39 wish they had more time to study or learn something new.
  • 50% of those aged 30-50 would use the time to also catch up on some sleep.
  • While spending time with family was a strong desire across all age groups, those aged 50+ balance it more with other activities including reading and learning something new. Despite concerns of Australia becoming screen-obsessed, watching Netflix was the worst performing option with only 15% aspiring to catch up on their favourite shows.

House Cleaning – a real turn-off

  • 80% are stressed about a ‘dirty’ house. More women (84%) stressed about having a dirtier house than men (74%)
  • 35% have big fights at least twice a year (20% at least four times a year) about home cleaning. 25% of those aged 30-39 have big fights about home cleaning at least five times a year. For those 40-49, it falls to 23%.
  • 60% of those surveyed who are dating said that a messy home would be a ‘deal-breaker’ for a potential partner, with a further 20% admitting it would be a factor.

Robotics – Exterminate, Assimilate, I’ll be back

  • 64% of people openly embrace robotics to help clean the home if it meant saving them time. This increases to 74% for those aged 30-39 years.
  • 58% of people said they don’t need to understand how the technology works, so long as it does the job and saves them time.

Ecovacs products in Australia

  • Deebot OZMO Wet’n’dry $1,299
  • Deebot OZMO 610 Wet’n’dry $899
  • Deebot R98 Wet’n’dry with self-emptying dustbin and a stick vacuum cleaner as part of the charging station. $1,399
  • Winbot X cordless glass cleaning robot. Price and Availability TBA.