The Roomba that I wrote about in my last post arrived on Feb 15, not bad for a Valentine’s Day present! And the verdict is: we totally dig it, it scares the dog, the cat doesn’t care.

How cool is it that we can be walking the dog, or making dinner, or whatever, and have a robot be cleaning the house at that very moment? Better living through automation, that’s what I say.

Technical details: the Roomba is a big circle, about the diameter of the width of this laptop, and stands (so to speak) about 3 inches high. So it can go under most of our furniture — which is good, since with a cat & a dog, we have a lot of tumblehair gathering in the darker crevasses. I’m still trying to suss out the algorithm that governs the Roomba’s movement: it seems to be some combination of the drunkard’s walk with fairly sophisticated object-avoidance. The thing travels in straight lines, more or less — it seems to curl slightly on the longer straightaways — it goes until it hits something — it has a bumper on its front end (yes it has a front, even though it’s circular) — and thens turn right or left, apparently at random, some number of degrees 90 or fewer, again apparently at random, & moves forward until it hits something again, usually the same thing, rinse, repeat. But when it gets into a corner it seems that some more sophisticated algorithm kicks in to get it out: the Roomba hit our piano bench the other night, which has an I-shaped base, & it actually completely circumnavigated the bench, swinging around the top & bottom of the I & into the concavities on the sides. I was amazed.

In short, it’s not the most powerful vacuum, but it’s got more vacuuminess (suckage?) than you’d expect. And it’s automated, which means that we don’t have to vacuum. (Ok, we have to vacuum less.) And it’s kind of like a little pet — a stupid pet that keeps bumping into things, but still. What’s not to love?