Probably the greatest problem faced by makers of robot vacuum cleaners, other than convincing people to buy them in the first place, is devising a method for the tiny bots to locate those areas that need cleaning. A human using a vacuum cleaner either attacks the spots on the floor that look dirty or systematically moves the suction nozzle around the room until every accessible space has been sucked clear of debris. The first method, finding the dirt and going after it, would be difficult (though not impossible) for a computerized device, but the second -- a robot that can systematically find its way through a space until every square inch has been cleaned without significant repetition of areas that have already been vacuumed -- has known (and fairly simple) solutions.
The very first robovac ever put on the market, the Electrolux Trilobite, used ultrasonic sensors to map out a room and move about in a somewhat organized manner, but it was too expensive for what at the time was a fairly small market for robotic vacuums. The Trilobite was eventually discontinued. Subsequently, most robovacs have simply attacked their task randomly, roving about through the designated space like absent-minded janitors until the cleaning was finally accomplished. Now, however, the price of sensing technology has fallen and the market for robovacs is willing to pay somewhat higher prices to begin with.
Enter the Neato Botvac 80, which uses a substantially more advanced algorithm to navigate a room space. Reviewers praise not only the Botvac 80s efficient floor navigation but its suction power. Obviously better navigation is a selling point, because iRobot has adopted it for their [Roomba 980], but early reports say that the Botvac does a better job with the cleaning part, if not the navigation part.
Despite a few kinks in the user interface, the BotVac 80 is arguably one of the best robotic vacuum cleaners money can buy right now.
I'm very impressed with it's coverage and power. Maintenance is a breeze as well. The brush is very easy to remove and clean-no tools required like on a regular vacuum.
The Neato actually divides the room into sections, and cleans each section by going back and forth in straight lines. What a novel concept!
. . . Gets "confused" and sometimes tries to mount chair legs, or gets lost in the middle of the floor (especially on a black or black-patterned carpet).
The Botvac 80 is designed to clean a variety of surfaces, including hardwoord flooring, tile, linoleum, carpet, and in my case, even polished concrete and sheepskin area rugs.
For one thing . . . it doesn’t have a remote control for extra-lazy people such as myself.
Oh and to clean those filters, I use my air-compressor in the garage. Blow the air the opposite way through filter. Good as new.