Why your Roombas random patterns make total sense

first_img CNET Smart Home CNET Smart Home 24 Electrolux iRobot Neato Robots Inside our test room are objects and challenges designed to mimic what a robot will encounter as it cleans a room. That includes constructs designed to mimic large furniture like sofas or dressers, smaller objects like lamps or table and chair legs, and even surface irregularities like carpets, transitions between flooring and electrical cords. A camera mounted above captures a bird’s-eye view of all the action. From there we can figure out the path each vacuum takes during its cleaning cycle. This system also allows us to calculate how much of the floor a machine actually covers, and the time it takes to do it.   15 Photos Aug 31 • Best smart light bulbs for 2019 (plus switches, light strips, accessories and more) reading • Your Roomba takes a weird path to clean the floors in your home. Here’s why it matters See All Preview • Electrolux’s robot vac scans objects to map its path See it Aug 30 • iRobot Roomba S9 Plus vs. Neato Botvac D7 Connected Pure i9 Vacuum Cleaners Aug 30 • Battling bot vacs: iRobot Roomba S9+ vs Neato Botvac D7 Connected Electrolux Pure i9 The way a robot vacuum travels around the room as it cleans really matters. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET Any robot vacuum cleaner will remove at least some dirt from your floors. How much ground it covers, though, and its behavior moving through rooms will vary a great deal from model to model. The most important factor behind this is a robot’s navigation system. Its navigation technology, together with software, determines a vacuum’s actions. That plays a massive role in how well a given robot cleans a space, or even hunt for garden weeds. As you might expect, some robot vacuums perform the task better than others. Read more: How to prep your house so your robot vacuum won’t get stuck.Fortunately, our brand-new robot vacuum testing room at our warehouse lab in Louisville, Kentucky, can help us show the differences between robot vacuums, including how well they perceive, interact and otherwise move around in a physical space.  robot-vac-group-shot-1To break in our new test room, we ran nine current robot vacuum models across its floor. Tyler Lizenby/CNET Robot navigation on a budget There are three main types of systems robot vacuum cleaners typically use to navigate a space. The first is a simple collection of collision, wheel, brush and cliff sensors. They tell robots when they hit or are about to hit objects. With that information, they can slow down or change course altogether. Additionally these sensors help vacuums avoid falls down flights of stairs. You tend to find these systems in budget robot vacuums. The upside is they cost a lot less than more complex machines. The $349 SharkNinja Ion S87 and $199 Eufy Robovac 11S are examples of products with this style of navigation. eufy-black-navBasic robot vacuums equipped with collision and proximity sensors, like the Eufy RoboVac 11S Max here, bounce around obstacles to find their way, but miss a lot of open floor space. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET The downside is that they operate in a random fashion, bumping into things and veering willy-nilly around the room. The very first iRobot Roombas did the same. Sadly that results in incomplete floor coverage. Spots in tight places (corners, table and chair legs) get lots of repeat attention. Open areas, however, are likely vacuumed once (or perhaps not at all) since the robot travels in a straight line until it detects something in its path. deebot500-covThis image is designed to show the actual area the robot covered for cleaning. As you can tell, the Ecovacs Deebot 500 was very inconsistent.  Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET These machines take a long time to run too, roughly three times as long as the most advanced robot vacuums need to attack the same area. Sure, long clean times won’t matter much if you tend to vacuum when nobody’s home, and have all day to do it. When company is due to arrive in 45 minutes, or other time-limited situations, that’s a problem. Visual or optical navigation Other robot vacuums combine the basic array of collision sensors with a main visual sensor that’s augmented by a lens. These vacuums use a navigation algorithm called VSLAM (or visual simultaneous location and mapping). The optical system can identify landmarks on the ceiling, as well as judge the distance between walls. irobot-roomba-i7-navThe iRobot Roomba i7+ shows a more logical, thorough navigation path thanks to its optical technology. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET VSLAM also calculates the vacuum’s relative position in a room in real time, letting the bot create a map as it cleans. Robot vacuums that operate this way navigate a room with greater efficiency, systematically cleaning the floor in a logical pattern. They won’t waste time vacuuming areas of a room the robot knows it has already travelled over. As a result, they can cover the same area in a shorter time, and with better coverage than a robot based only on physical sensors. iRobot’s current line of Roombas, such as the $1,099 i7+ and $1,299 S9+, have this kind of navigation system. The same is true of higher-end Ecovac models like the $499 Deebot 711. i7-covThat optical navigation translates to much more thorough coverage across our test room floor. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET Visually driven robot vacuums have a few drawbacks. Since their optical sensors need at least some amount of ambient light present, they have trouble finding their way in completely dark rooms. Compared with basic models, you’ll pay extra for these more intelligent robots too.   Laser navigation Another way robot vacuums can sense their environment is with lidar (light detection and ranging). It’s the same sort of technology you’ll find in many self-driving car prototypes such as those from Waymo and Uber. All Neato Botvacs use this method, including the $829 Botvac D7 Connected, the company’s current flagship model. Here’s a view of the Neato Botvac D6 Connected using its laser LIDAR SLAM system in our test room. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET Top-tier Ecovac Deebots like the $549 Ozmo 930 have built-in lidar too. In this sophisticated system, a turret-based laser mounted on the top of the robot vacuum illuminates objects to help the robot figure out their location and distance. Vacuums equipped with lidar can also detect the size and shape of things in their path. neato-botvac-d6-connected-navGuided by lidar, the navigation pattern of Neato’s Botvac D6 was very systematic, optimizing its pathing to get the job done completely, and in a short amount of time. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET They actively scan their surroundings too. That’s why these machines tend to cover floors with extreme efficiency For instance, both the Neato Botvac D7 and Botvac D6 cleaned our test room floor in just under 21 minutes. The $349 SharkNinja Ion S87, with its basic navigation, spent 1 hour and 9 minutes cleaning the floor of our test room. Likewise, two budget Ecovacs machines, the $279 Deebot 500 and $249 Deebot 600, both had cleaning times of over 1 hour (60 and 64 minutes respectively). The longest though was the $199 Eufy RoboVac 11S Max (100 minutes, 34 seconds), also the cheapest model in this group.   neato-botvac-d6-connected-covEven with a pathing plan that looks sparse, the Neato Botvac D6 managed to cover essentially the entire test room floor. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET Shorter runtime isn’t the only benefit to lidar. Paired with the SLAM (or simultaneous location and mapping) algorithm, these robots also create detailed maps on the fly. You can perform useful interactions with those maps too. For instance, you can drop virtual boundaries within them, or make restricted zones at will for the robot to avoid. These vacuums also navigate in the dark if necessary. All that is great. Just remember you’ll pay a premium for these machines. They typically occupy the ultra-high-end rung of the market.   Hybrid systems A new approach a few robot vacuums take is to combine multiple navigate technology into one system. That includes brush, cliff, wheel and optical sensors, as well as laser emitters. There aren’t that many products that do this at the moment. One you can buy today is the $499 Electrolux Pure i9. This unique robot vacuum is equipped with a pair of front-firing lasers. Sitting in the middle of them, on the vacuum’s front face, is also a big optical sensor behind a lens. electrolux-pure-i9-navThe Electrolux Pure i9, using a hybrid navigation and sensor system, definitely missed areas of our test room floor. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET Even with all that tech, the Pure i9’s movement through our test room appeared confused. It didn’t roll along confidently like the Neato and Roomba machines. Instead it muddled through it in fits and starts, constantly pivoting in different directions. The Electrolux Pure i9 uses a hybrid optical and laser navigation system. Even so, it often looked confused rolling across our test room floor.  Brian Bennett/CNET With so many tools, as well as enhanced software and processing power, robots with hybrid navigation have the potential to offer unheard of levels of automation and intelligence. I think the upcoming Ecovacs Deebot 960 looks especially promising. Ecovacs says the vacuum will be able to actually identify objects like shoes, clothing and piles of toys. electrolux-pure-i9-covRobot vacuums with hybrid sensor systems have promise. The Electrolux Pure i9 is one, but it didn’t cover our test room floor as well as other machines. Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET And the company says the robot’s AI-based recognition will learn new objects over time. Perhaps that list will include pet messes and other wet, goopy or sticky debris. That would be a welcome update, potentially saving your flooring and your carpet from becoming even messier than before the robot vacuum started cleaning. A note on our new robot vacuum testing room We’ve conducted straight-line, cleaning performance-based tests for robot vacuums in the past, but that really only tells part of the picture about how well a robot vacuum will clean your home. How well it can navigate a space, how much area it actually covers and how long it takes are all important factors, too. To help us capture that information, we built an industry-standard testing room, as specified by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the international standards body that, among other things, governs robot vacuum testing methods for manufacturers. center_img Look for more robot vacuum testing from us in the near future. For now, we can at least say conclusively that not all robot vacuums are the same, and the way a bot navigates around a room will impact not only its cleaning performance, but also how long it takes to get the job done. $499 Aug 31 • Alexa can tell you if someone breaks into your house Share your voice See It 3:43 Mentioned Above Electrolux Pure i9 Lasers, sensors and robots, oh my: Some robot vacuums… CNET may get a commission from retail offers. $614 Some robot vacuums have a better sense of direction than others Tags Now playing: Watch this: Comments •last_img read more

Thousands Mourn Mozambique Rebel Leader as Talks Press On

first_imgBy The Associated PressThousands of people on May 9 attended the funeral of Mozambican rebel and opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama, with the country’s president and Dhlakama’s successor pledging to forge ahead with peace talks.Dhlakama died at age 65 last week in his rural hideout in central Mozambique, where he had run a renewed military campaign against the southern African nation’s government after pulling out of a 1992 peace accord that ended 16 years of civil war that killed up to 1 million people.Family members of Mozambique’s opposition leader, Alfonso Dhlakama react during his state funeral in Beira about 700 kilometres south of the capital Maputo. Dhlakama, who led a rebel group during the devastating civil war that ended in 1992 died on May 3. He was 65. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)His death came not long after he had renewed negotiations with the government.President Filipe Nyusi said those talks should continue.“I want to make it clear that I will carry on with the work that we began, the peace and strengthening of our democracy,” Nyusi said at the funeral in the port city of Beira.Dhlakama, who turned the Mozambique National Resistance, or Renamo, from a rebel group into a competitive political party after the 1992 peace deal, had demanded the decentralization of power as a condition to lay down arms. His group, which never fully disarmed, was repeatedly defeated in elections and alleged fraud.Renamo’s interim leader, Ossufo Momade, repeated the demand for more autonomy on Wednesday but committed the movement to negotiations, saying discussions also should focus on integrating Renamo’s fighters into the national army.Nyusi said he accepted the need to finalize the two demands.“I confirm my availability for the process,” the president said, adding that the fighters should disarm and join the national army.In March, Nyusi proposed constitutional changes to redistribute power to the provinces as part of peace efforts.Renamo’s interim leader also alleged that Dhlakama had died in the bush because of the military’s attempts on his life. The Portuguese news agency Lusa has reported that Dhlakama was ill prior to his death, citing an unnamed Renamo official. Nyusi has said he had hoped to help transfer Dhlakama out of the impoverished country for medical treatment, but it was too lateDhlakama’s supporters, some wearing T-shirts with his picture, lined up on Wednesday to view the body of a man loved by some and hated by others for his role in the civil war. Dozens of people climbed trees, while others followed the proceedings from the balconies of nearby apartments.The coffin was draped in the national flag while uniformed soldiers – once the main targets of rebel attacks – stood guard.Speakers described Dhlakama as a visionary, a democrat and a negotiator.“He was a man of the people. He died fighting for the freedom of the people,” Sarah Zhuwawo, who said she was a relative, told The Associated Press.Others were less charitable.“He was a bandit. He was a dangerous man, that one. He wanted this country to collapse,” said Lucas Chikweya, who was selling boiled eggs on the street.In the city of Mutare in neighboring Zimbabwe, some criticized Dhlakama for sending his fighters across the border to attack innocent villagers in the 1980s.Hordes of Mozambicans fled into Zimbabwe and neighboring Malawi as refugees during the fighting.Between 2013 and 2016, Renamo resumed low-intensity sporadic attacks on Mozambican police, the military and civilians after Dhlakama left his Beira residence for rural Gorongosa, citing renewed attacks on him by the government.However, tensions eased in 2017 as Dhlakama met Nyusi in Gorongosa to discuss differences between the two sides.“What matters most is that he was working toward peace at the end. It is important that negotiations are completed before next year’s elections,” said Zimbabwean opposition politician Chris Sibindi, who attended the funeral. Mozambique is set to hold presidential, legislative and provincial elections in October 2019.Dhlakama will be buried Thursday in his home village.last_img read more

A tribute to Kishore Kumar

first_imgTo pay tribute to the legendary playback singer – Kishore Kumar, the Kishore Kumar Memorial Club organised a cultural programme at Pyarelal Bhawan, New Delhi recently. The programme was inaugurated jointly by an eminent promoter of Art and Culture in the country –Lala Ram and Amarjeet Singh Kohli, who is the Chairman of the organisation ‘Sakha’. K J Alphons, Tourism Minister, Government of India was invited as the Chief Guest at the event. Besides, the 17th Kishor Kumar Awards were also conferred to deserving artists who were present on the occasion in his memory. Apart from that, The Tourism Minister also released the book written by Kamal Dhiman on the life and times of Kishore Kumar ‘Filmmaker Kishor Kumar’ on the occasion. A rare Photo Exhibition on the life and works of Kishor Kumar was also organised on the occasion to commemorate this great play back singer of the country.last_img read more

Alitalia looks to reorganize to avoid collapse

first_img MILAN — The board of Italian carrier Alitalia says it’s filing for extraordinary administration as a result of unions’ rejection of a plan to relaunch the struggling company.The board expressed “deep regret” Tuesday that workers overwhelmingly rejected a government-brokered relaunch plan, which had softened planned job and salary cuts. The board said the outcome made it impossible to unlock the planned 2 billion euros in investments from both managing shareholder Etihad and a consortium of Italian companies that control a 51% stake. The company will therefore need to be reorganized, the board said.Italy’s economic development minister has said that the period of extraordinary administration, which is designed to help companies avoid failure, is expected to last about six months, during which a buyer would be sought. Share Alitalia looks to reorganize to avoid collapse << Previous PostNext Post >> Tuesday, May 2, 2017 center_img The Canadian Press Posted by Tags: Alitalialast_img read more