We go hands-on with iRobot's future of wet floor care - the Scooba 450
If mopping your floors fills you with dread, iRobot might just have the answer to solve your household chores. As well as the vacuum cleaning Roomba 800 series, the American robotics company has just launched a new robot to its line of floor-scrubbing Scooba models: the Scooba 450. We were there at the European launch of iRobot’s new robots to bring you our initial impressions.
The Scooba 450 uses a new three-cycle cleaning process to mop your floors effectively and hygienically. It borrows the same stylish design as the Roomba 800 series, but it’s arguably even easier to use than its vacuuming cousins, as it both mops and vacuums your hard floors to remove up to 99.3 per cent of bacteria.
The Scooba 450 has two tanks for clean and dirty water
“At the front of the robot, we have a vacuum, so it picks up the dry debris on the floor first,” explained Angle. “Then what we’re doing is putting down clean water to soak the stains that are dried onto your floor. Then, we come back to the same area and vacuum up that dirty water into a different tank, so you’re always cleaning with clean water.”
By sweeping, soaking and scrubbing the floor, Angle says this triples the performance of previous Scooba models, and we were certainly impressed when we saw it in action. As iRobot representatives scattered liquids and crumbs on a variety of hard surfaces, the Scooba 450 sought out the dirty patches and instantly wiped everything away, leaving no trace of what had been there before once it was done.
The Scooba 450 still uses brushes, but it requires much less maintenance than you might think
Of course, a quick look at the rear of the robot will show that unlike the Roomba 800 series, the Scooba 450 still uses brushes to help sweep up any debris on the floor. These spin at 600rpm, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to spend ages cleaning the Scooba 450, as the robot has its own self-rinsing cycle that cleans the brushes automatically when it’s finished cleaning.
“Once it’s done cleaning your floor, [the Scooba 450] will put some more water on the ground and clean the clean floor with its brushes to get the goop off the brushes,” said Angle. “Then it will go in a figure of eight pattern to start drying the brushes, so when you pick up the Scooba, it’s done and you can put it away.”
If do you want to clean the brushes yourself, that’s easy too, as the cleaning mechanism can be removed without dissembling the robot. This means you can quickly rinse it in the sink without too much hassle, and emptying the Scooba 450 is as simple as removing the liquid bin and tipping the dirty contents down the drain.
The Scooba 450 will seek out every last piece of dirt with its iAdapt technology
The Scooba uses the same detection technology as the Roomba 800 series as well. “The cleaning algorithm that the robot uses is very dynamic,” says Angle. “It does not assume anything about your room because often every time we vacuum the room it’s different. Chairs get moved perhaps in the middle of vacuuming, and we have created an AI system to allow full coverage without assuming furniture being in any particular place, and it gives the best coverage performance, especially for complicated areas. The origin of this cleaning algorithm was actually developed for the US Department of Defence for mine hunting, so we take coverage very seriously.”
Our only concern is the price. As with the lowest Roomba 800 model, the Scooba 450 will retail for £600 when it launches in April later this year. It’s certainly an incredibly smart device, but we’ll have to wait and see whether it can justify its price when we test one fully in the coming months.