The latest in vacuum technology

Japan is a country where robot technology is quite advanced -- robots already exist that can walk bi-pedal, do chores, and even ride a unicycle. In light of the countries fondness for robots, iRobot, an American company, has introduced the iRobot Roomba 500 Series, a self propelled robot vacuum cleaner.

The 500 Series Roomba was on sale at my local department store for the low price of 79,800 Yen ($805 USD). The Roomba's size dimensions are 508x445x140 mm and the all white model was on display. The Roomba uses Nickel Cadmium batteries that take three hours to charge and lasts from 60 to 120 minutes depending on the settings. For the Japanese market a Hello Kitty model has also been introduced.

The manufacturer claims all you need to do is press one button and the robot will take care of all your vacuuming needs. The Roomba is able to detect ledges such as stairs and avoid going over them. When the Roomba is finished cleaning or when the Roomba runs out of batteries it is able to return to its charging dock on its own to recharge its batteries.

The Roomba is quieter than a standard vacuum cleaner, has no cords that can get in the way, and can handle both carpet and flooring. If you only want half of a room to be cleaned while you are busy in the other half it is possible to create a virtual wall the Roomba does not cross by using a sensor that sends a signal across the floor.

Reviews found on the web indicate older models of the Roomba do a quality job vacuuming your rooms. In my opinion the Roomba gives me the impression it is a gimmicky product you would use a couple times and then stuff in to a closet to be sold off at a garage sale. Considering the high price and the fact Japanese homes are small and often have multiple floors I don’t think the Roomba would be a hot seller.

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