9 robotic helpers, from robot vacuums to Budgee bots

Dean Evans Technology Writer Twitter

We now live in an age when owning a domestic robot helper is an affordable reality. Robot vacuums like the Roomba have been available for some time now and they’ve been joined by all manner of autonomous devices designed to tackle those jobs you hate. Or at least those jobs you’d rather delegate to someone (or something) else.

So how many jobs can today’s home robots take off our hands?

1. Doing the ‘hoovering’
Most of the major electronics manufacturers have joined iRobot in selling floor cleaning robots. At one end of the scale you have low-tech solutions like the £130 Vileda Cleaning Robot, which will bump its way randomly around a room sucking up dirt as it goes. At the other, the £769 Neato BotVac Connected uses lasers to scan and map its surroundings, then plots a course to clean the area efficiently. You can even control it via a smartphone

2. Mopping the floor
Of course, while robo-vacs are great for battling dust, they don’t typically mop. The iRobot Scooba 450 (£500), however, can sweep, pre-soak, scrub and squeegee hard floors, leaving you free to browse the web in search of other robot helpers.

The iRobot Scooba 450 in action
The iRobot Scooba washes, mops, wipes and cleans so you don’t have to.

3. Mowing the lawn
Considering the success of robotic vacuum cleaners, the rise of robotic lawnmowers is hardly a surprise. From the £650 Flymo 1200r 18v Robotic Cordless Lawnmower to the top-of-the-line, GPS-equipped Husqvarna Automower 450X Robotic Lawn Mower (£2,800), you’re spoilt for choice.

4. Clearing out the gutters
Yes, you can get a robot for this too. The £280 iRobot Looj 330 Gutter Cleaning Robot, to be precise. Pop this small tracked device into a gutter and it will trundle along it, blasting away leaves and dirt with a rapidly rotating auger.

4. Washing the windows
Sure, you could pay a traditional window cleaner £10 to do the job, but with a WINBOT 930 Window Cleaning Robot (£340) you can let technology take over. Packed with sensors, just switch this robot helper on, attach it to a window or mirror and watch it go.

The Grillbot barbecue cleaning robot
Robotic helper devices like this Grillbot do a better, quicker job than a human can.

5. Cleaning the barbecue
The worst thing about having a barbecue is having to clean it afterwards — a sink usually isn’t big enough to accommodate a dirty grill, while laboriously scratching at bits of burnt burger and sausage is hardly pleasant. It’s why there’s a Grillbot. For under £100, the three stainless steel brushes on the Grillbot Automatic Grill Cleaning Robot will do the heavy scrubbing for you, returning a greasy, blackened grill to its former shiny state.

6. Guarding the house
The problem with most fixed security systems is that you need to have a camera and a sensor in every room. However, a new breed of home surveillance robots aims to change that.

The Snov Wifi Family Robot (£140), for example, is a 720p camera that can be driven around the house remotely using a smartphone. More complex robot helpers, like the ASUS Zenbo and the Segway Robot, might be able to patrol your home in the future.

Snov Wi-Fi Family Robot
The Snov Wi-Fi Family Robot can act as a roving security guard.

7. Remembering our ‘stuff’
While they can’t move around, the likes of Amazon Echo ($180), Google Home and Jibo represent the sort of robotic helpers that will become commonplace in homes over the next decade. Responding to voice commands, these AI boxes will help us search the web, make (and keep appointments), integrate with connected home devices and even entertain us.

8. Carrying the shopping
As we all start to live longer, robots will ultimately help to do those tasks that we can’t manage. The Budgee Bot ($1,700) is a personal assistant robot that has been designed to follow you around (tracking a wireless transmitter) and to carry your things. It’s essentially a smart shopping trolley, capable of hefting up to 22.5kg, trundling at 2.4mph, and lasting for 10 hours on a single battery charge.

9. Carrying your own suitcase
Ultimately, robots will be everywhere. If Olive Robotics has its way, you won’t even need to carry your own suitcase when you go on holiday. The company’s Olive ‘intelligent suitcase’ uses a 3D camera to follow its owner, will send you an alert if you leave it behind, and features GPS technology so you can track it anywhere in the world. Just in case, you return home but your luggage doesn’t.

Main image copyright: Shutterstock/Caracarafoto

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