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What are some inexpensive robots (less than $200) can improve one's productivity for completing household chores?

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If someone would invent a robot that would remove my laundry from the dryer, take it upstairs and hangup everything in the closet or put it into the dresser, I'm marrying it. –  HLGEM Jul 19 '12 at 21:44
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closed as primarily opinion-based by AsheeshR, Rory Alsop Mar 21 at 10:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

6 Answers

One of the robots that helps me with my household chores is called a "washing machine".

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As others have mentioned, the iRobot Roomba is an excellent example of a household robot which does meaningful work.

I've had my 520 for almost three years and since I got it, have only used my main vacuum cleaner for heavy duty jobs, like post DIY clean-up of wood chippings, plaster or concrete dust.

My Roomba uses a random walk method to clean my floors (not sure about the new iAdapt models), which works well on my squarish rooms without too many obstructions. More advanced mapping based robotic vacuum cleaners might do better on very irregularly shaped rooms or rooms with many obstructions, but I'm not convinced. I've minimised obstructions in my rooms by selecting furniture with 8+cm gaps underneath or by raising furniture to have an 8cm gap. I also recline my sofa before setting off the Roomba, so it can clean under it.

Though cleaning will work better and faster without trailing power cords and rugs in the way, the 500 series at least copes with them really well. If your rug has tassles, it will even leave them neatly perpendicular to the rug edge. *8')

I've never had a problem with my Roomba scratching or marking skirting boards or furniture, the soft touch sensors and silicone bumper strips make sure of that (cheaper models may not have these). I'm still on my first battery, but it will need replacing soon. I've replaced the side brush and filter several times, buying original replacements cheaply from Amazon sellers.

Even the most basic current (UK) model is more advanced than mine though, and can use virtual walls to get the Roomba to complete one room before moving on to the next, traversing several rooms to get back to it's base station for a re-charge.

As Dennis S. suggests, a little and often is the best way to use a Roomba. Anything other than the most basic current model is great for that as you can schedule regular cleans at times when you are out.

I can't count the number of hours my Roomba has saved me over the years, it's certainly recouped it's costs many times over. My next project is to get around to building the serial interface, so I can can instruct it from my PC and get around the problem that I was too cheap to buy a model with scheduled operations. *8')

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I've owned an iRobot Roomba for a few years and just decided today, actually, that I will probably be giving it away to Goodwill. It was really nice in the beginning but became more of a hassle as time went on. One of the issues is the maintenance on the product simply isn't cost effective for the return. It's cleaning power seems to degrade after about a year of moderate use.

If you want to consider another brand of robotic vacuum you may want to have a look at Mint. I don't personally own one but it seems like a good alternative as it uses a different technology for telling the robot where to go in a room than what Roomba does. Roomba bumped into a lot of things to help find its way which ended up scuffing our baseboards and other things. Not sure if Mint improves on that or not.

Either way, my personal opinion is that robotics haven't improved both in terms of technology and cost for the home yet to really help with house chores (such as a towel folding robot, how awesome would that be?!?).

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I've been happy with the iRobot Roomba for floor cleaning. I own 5, 4 of which are no longer working. The most recent has been very good. The others were good for a year to a year and a half, then died. Build up a habit of using it regularly, make sure your rooms are always ready for it to run (no power cords, no throw rugs) and it is easy and effective.

For any other household chore, there's too much decision making needed for inexpensive automation, IMHO. You're better off forming habits that get the cleaning done in small manageable chunks. See FlyLady (http://www.flylady.net) for some examples.

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I completely agree with forming routines. Also, light messes make for light cleanup—try to pick up after yourself every day. –  Kyle Hayes Dec 29 '11 at 17:38
    
You own 5, of which 4 are broken, and still recommend it? How much did they cost, all together? How long have they served? –  Konerak Jan 2 '12 at 15:00
    
Yup, still recommend it. Amazing, isn't it? I've had good experiences with iRobot customer support, and bought all but the first one cheap at Woot.com. One died after a fall down the stairs - early model, they've improved the cliff sensors. Two (same model) had batteries reach end of life, and it wasn't much more expensive to get the newer model than to get replacement batteries. I can't remember what the issue was with the other one. They've all lasted a year or two, except for the last one which is coming up on 3 years. Overall, more expensive than other vacuums, cheaper than a maid. –  Dennis S. Jan 3 '12 at 16:39
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iRobot actually has 4 cleaning robots available in the store. Cleaning the floor, mopping, cleaning the pool and cleaning roof gutters.

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iRobot. Does your carpet cleaning.

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