Mopping up with Robots

Compact, inexpensive, autonomous. But may be too small to hold the cat. 

Did you ever think you’d read a line (that’s wasn’t from a sci-fi story) that said: “We will continue to diversify our home robot offerings”? That’s from a spokesperson describing the strategy behind the just-released Braava Jet Mopping Robot.

Braava jet

iRobot, the company behind the robot mop, is already well known for its autonomous vacuum cleaner, namely the Roomba. If you don’t already have one in your house, you’ve certainly seen it featured in videos of mobile cats terrorizing dogs on YouTube.

This newest device from iRobot is smaller than its vacuum predecessor. Smart, and kind of adorable, the machine mops hard floor surfaces, combining a simple box-like design, a vibrating cleaning head, a jet spray, and cleaning pads to lift dirt.

But while the development team packed a lot of functionality in a small space, they clearly didn’t let costs get out of hand. At about $200 USD, the Braava jet is relatively inexpensive as home robots go.

And that makes it especially attractive for consumers who don’t like to sweep and mop (that would be “everybody”). As a bonus, it looks cool in action. Check out the video:

Here’s how it works: The consumer selects a wet mopping or damp sweeping pad, each of which contain a water-activated cleaning agent. The robot automatically determines its cleaning action based on the pad chosen (that’s smart). Moving in a pattern, Braava jet maneuvers around obstacles in its path and cleans along furniture, walls, and fixtures. It loosens dirt while the cleaning pads break up and collect the debris.

Its compact size helps it work around tight spaces in bathrooms—think the areas around the toilet and sink. It’s also easier to store than most home cleaning tools and devices, fitting easily on a closet shelf.

When it’s finished cleaning, users place the robot over a wastebasket and hit the ‘eject’ button to drop the pad into the trash. Can your mop do that?

iRobot was founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists. The company started out developing robots for researchers, military, and civil defense forces worldwide, performing thousands of dangerous search, reconnaissance and bomb-disposal missions while protecting those in harm’s way. Now it’s a leader in the home cleaning market.

We’ve introduced the iRobot team before on our websites:

With more than 15 million home robots having been sold worldwide, it’s safe to say home robotics isn’t a fad. In fact, the Braava jet shows that there’s still plenty of opportunity for innovation in the market. Because, let’s face it, once homeowners figure out that their housework can be done by a robot, there’s little reason to go back to mops and brooms.

That said, whether your cat will fit on the top of the Braava jet remains to be seen.

[Ed. Read about more companies successfully overcoming design challenges in our case studies here. And stay up-to-date with PTC Creo, PTC Mathcad, and PTC Windchill product news by subscribing to our eNewsletter  PTC Express.]