Anyone reading this old enough to remember Fraggle Rock will remember the little creatures called Doozers who just never stopped working. The Samsung Powerbot VR9000 is a little like that.
Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t new. They’ve been around since the late Nineties and the most famous of them has to be the Roomba, made even more famous by the video of a cat in a shark costume circling a kitchen on top of one.
The space, unfortunately due to price, has been beyond the realm of most punters so robot vacuum cleaners aren’t quite as mainstream as their manufacturers would like.
This may be about to change, as consumer electronics giant Samsung puts some pedal to the metal to bring more robot cleaners to market. As well as this, inventor Sir James Dyson is about to enter the fray with his own vacuum cleaner robot, the Dyson 360 Eye.
When we look at robots in movies they are mobile so you never consider lifting them.
These floor-cleaning robots are actually quite heavy and the Samsung VR9000, while mobile itself, will still need to be shunted into position whether for charging or bringing upstairs.
But appearance-wise, the robot is definitely something out of the future, with flashing blue LEDs and a discreet profile that looks oddly apt in any domestic setting.
As it whizzes about with a purpose that would impress a rising politician, the Powerbot at first glance appears quite slow but it’s amazing how much ground it actually covers in a wee amount of time.
The design is quite nice and different, and the Powerbot comes in two colour variants: Airborne Copper (gold and black) and Deep Blue (blue and black).
The Powerbot VR9000 comes with Samsung’s smart Digital Inverter Technology, which Samsung claims creates suction power up to 60 times more powerful than conventional robot vacuums.
The robot features Samsung’s CycloneForce technology that creates a strong centrifugal force that circulates dust particles through the inner chamber so dirt and debris is separated from the air and sieved into the outer chamber. As a result, the filter is kept clean, which lessens clogging over time.
The machine has an enlarged drum brush that covers quite a wide area and has side brushes that can help it get in at those pesky corners.
The machine comes with a family of sensors that help it understand its environment and memorise rooms, including the FullView sensor that creates a map via the ceiling of various rooms. The sensors help it locate obstacles to navigate safely around an entire room.
Enlarged 105mm wheels and a body raised 15mm off the floor help it overcome wires and door frames.
Another feature is the Point Cleaning function that lets you instruct the robot where to clean by pointing the remote control at a spot and beaming down on that spot.
There were a number of enjoyable things about the Powerbot, chiefly not having to lug it about the place. At first I was grateful for the free labour, despite a niggling doubt in the back of my mind about allowing something else to do the work I should have been doing. It’s a machine, just a machine, I kept telling myself. But still …
Anyway, before I start off on a diatribe about future ethics and humans vs robots in a future society, the machine itself was quite a trooper.
I suspected that the drum for dust in the machine would fill up too early because of its discreet profile and I was proved wrong. It has quite a capacity.
The only fail is it continued to try cleaning when the drum was full. It really ought to have just stopped working as a way of informing you to empty the tray so it can set off about its work again.
But work it did. You can leave this thing running about the place and it will probably clean a room in about 10 to 15 minutes and will find its way to the next room. That to me was revelatory.
My verdict on the Powerbot VR9000 is largely positive insofar as this is the future and these things work quite well.
You’ll still need to keep a vacuum cleaner around the house to do things like hoover stairs and curtains, but the groundwork will be done by the trusty Powerbot.
Ultimately this is a good piece of technology, only let down by the hefty recommended price of €999. The device is available in Ireland at Harvey Norman.