The Roomba, The Scooba And The Santa Maria…Cha Cha Cha
by Marjorie Dorfman

No, these are not some heretofore-undiscovered ships that sailed the ocean blue with Christopher Columbus. They do, however, represent a "New World" in their own particular way. These are the names of a line of robots for the home, designed to make all of our lives just a tad easier when it comes time for the drudgery of housework.

I think that some of you may remember the robots from the early sci-fi movies of the 1950s and 60s, and also the silvery, murderous Cybernauts from the English television series, The Avengers. But whether you recall them or not, now your home can have its very own robotic family! (The family that cleans together stays together?) Well, I don’t know about that, but modern technology has now made it possible for robots to enter your home and work as domestic servants, without requesting days off, bonuses or even the inclination to "not do windows."

The Roomba, which is not a misspelled dance step from sunny Latin America, will treat your carpets with an attitude they have never seen before; intelligence! According to statistics, this amazing vacuum cleaner is now owned by more than 1.5 million satisfied people (some who can dance and probably some others who can’t).

Their unique intelligence system, which is called AWARE, makes all of this possible. Exactly what these initials stand for seems to be a tight state secret, but some things, such as the following, are clear. AWARE uses dozens of sensors to monitor the environment of this incredible machine, and adjusts Roomba’s behavior up to 67 times per second. This ensures that Roomba cleans effectively, intelligently and safely.

It’s brother, The Scooba is quite remarkable too. (There is no connection here to deep-sea diving or parts of names of cartoon characters.) This ultra-tech floor-washing robot can wash, scrub and dry floors in any home all at once! That may not be as good as Superman leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but it is close!

The Scooba is an intelligent and effective floor-washing robot, which features the same AWARE robot intelligence system as its older brother, the Roomba. Scooba will clean a standard size kitchen on a single tank full of cleaning solution. The weapon is the special soap, which was designed by chemists at Clorox. It’s easy on the robot and helps it maintain the necessary wheel traction, but hard and unforgiving on surrounding dirt and grime. It cleans in those hard to reach places; under furniture and tables, and is equally effective on vinyl, marble, slate and sealed hardwood floors.

One can only wonder though, what happens if it gets away or mad? Is the owner in trouble? Manufacturers won’t tell, but whatever happens, one thing is certain. If you use these two robots, your house will pass the toughest white glove test imaginable and be the cleanest on the block. The only problem seems to be keeping it that way. The robots don’t like it when ungrateful owners don’t maintain all their hard work. They keep a watchful eye as we all, little by little, become one of them, one roomba step at a time.

Roomb® and Scooba® are registered trademarks of iRobot Corporation.

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Copyright 2006