Posts Tagged ‘Robotic Vacuum Cleaner’

1991/2002 – Floorbotics Robotic Vacuum Cleaners – G. T. Duncan Ashworth (Australian)

The FloorBot is a robotic floor cleaner for the home. It's designed to automatically clean the floor while you relax, get a little exercise, or just head off for work. Press the start button and the FloorBot cleans in logical laps while sensing and navigating any obstacles in the area. When the FloorBot has finished cleaning it simply turns off. The development is the culmination of years of work in software development and real world simulation, advanced electronic engineering and mechanical design, 3D CAD design, and patented sensor systems. This was aided by comprehensive market research.

The core technology of the FloorBot is a highly flexible, platform independent navigation system, designed to suit many application requirements.
Intelligent mobile robotic appliances based on the FloorBot system could be further extended to provide a telepresence in the work area via integration with a vision system, and could be remotely controlled via Internet or BlueTooth technologies.

For full article see here.

Early brochure on the Floorbot V4.

A later model intelligent vacuum cleaner, the VR-8.

The Monash Museum of Computing History, Monash University have a Floorbotic Robotic Vacuum Cleaner on display at its Caulfield campus in Melbourne, Australia.

Patent Info – Navigational control apparatus and method for autonomus vehicles . See full patent details here.

Publication number US5321614 A
Publication date Jun 14, 1994
Filing date Jun 6, 1991
Inventors Guy T. D. Ashworth

See other early remote-controlled and robotic vacuum cleaners and floor scrubbers in timeline here.


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1997/2002 – Electrolux Trilobite Robotic Vacuum Cleaner – Anders Haegermarck, Lars Kilstrom, Bjorn Riise (Swedish)

Product Description (of Version 2.0)

Imagine pushing a button, walking away, and having clean floors an hour later. That futuristic scenario is now here with the Trilobite, the hands-free, "intelligent" robotic vacuum first introduced in Europe by Electrolux. While it isn't the first robotic home vacuum, the Trilobite is a major leap in home robotic technology–one that is reflected in its price. Where other small, round semi-autonomous vacuums are essentially "dumb" robots that randomly move about a room, the Trilobite uses a type of radar that maps a room and then plots a course based on previous cleaning travels.

Evolution in Revolution

The name comes from the hard-shelled sea creature from the Paleozoic era (betwen 250 to 560 million years ago) that roamed the ocean floor during, feeding on particles and small animals. Sound familiar? Today's Trilobite has been in the works since 1997, when its prototype was introduced on the BBC technology program, Tomorrow's World, and it has been perfected at Electrolux's development facilities in Sweden.

The round, red Trilobite uses ultrasound technology to see obstacles and avoid them. Much like a bat, which emits a high-pitched sound to create a personal sonar reading of its landscape, the Trilobite pings 60,000 Hz ultrasound vibrations at surfaces to create a map of the room and remember it for future assignments. This computer processing power is what raises the Trilobite's profile over the competition, whose vacuuming robots can only react to a situation (such as bumping into something) and cannot store data into memory.

The Trilobite in Action

Start the Trilobite by pressing the power button and answering yes to the question, "Start cleaning?" that appears on its LCD screen. The Trilobite then moves to the nearest wall, following along the edges of the room to create an inner picture of the room. This wall phase (the Normal mode of operation) forms the basis for calculation of the time required for cleaning of the open spaces that follows. The sonar detects any obstacles–blocks left on the floor, chair legs, a dog's water bowl–and a new path is quickly calculated. Transition between hard floors and carpet takes place effortlessly.

The Trilobite also offers two other operation modes. The Quick mode, which is good for a small room or last-minute tidying before the in-laws arrive, skips the wall measurement and moves about the room randomly for around 20 minutes. If you've just dumped a bag of flour on the floor or the kids have tracked an inordinate amount of dirt in from the backyard, the Spot mode can concentrate on an area about 3 feet (1 meter) square, covering every part in a maze-like pattern. You can also choose to clean via a timer for up to 60 minutes.

An infrared sensor detects changes in elevation of four inches and greater to help it avoid falling down stairs. It also comes with special magnetic strips that can be placed in doorways, other openings, or elevation changes less than 4 inches to provide boundaries. The Trilobite can analyze and solve problems it encounters. For instance, if the unit vacuums up a sock left on the floor which stalls the brushroll, the unit will stop, reverse its brushroll to expel the obstruction and then continue with its task once the brusroll is once again operating freely.

It carries two nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH) batteries on board, switching to the second as the first runs low on energy. As the second battery's power dips below the 50% point, the unit will cease vacuuming, return to its docking station, charge for about two hours, and return to the point where it ceased vacuuming to complete the task. The recharging dock fits along the base of any wall within 6 feet of a power outlet.

The Limits of Technology
While it is designed to access some tight spots in your home–especially areas that are hard to reach, like under the bed–the Trilobite obviously will not fit into spaces smaller than its diameter. You'll need a DustBuster or the shockingly analog-style broom to clean these spaces as well as corners. Occasionally, the Trilobite will miss a calculation and bump into furniture or an object left in the middle of the floor. But it has a suspension bumper that cushions the impact, and at a maximum speed of 1.3 feet (0.4 meters) per second, any unexpected collision will be light. It's about as loud as a normal vacuum, so it's best used when you're out of the house–just as it's designed to be used. Also note that the Trilobite works with only dry detritus–it's not a wet vac.

 –Agen G.N. Schmitz

[Source: Amazon]

Patent info:

Publication number US5781960 A
Publication date Jul 21, 1998
Filing date Apr 9, 1997

Inventors: Anders Haegermarck, Lars Kilstrom, Bjorn Riise


US5940927 and US5023444

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1997 – Noo-Noo Robotic Vacuum Cleaner (Prop) – Mark Dean (British)

Noo-Noo (operated by Mark Dean) is the Teletubbies' sky blue pet. He is in Teletubbyland as a type of vacuum cleaner. He rarely leaves the House. He doesn't speak like Teletubbies can; he makes sucking and slurping noises. At times, Noo-Noo gets annoyed with the Teletubbies' antics or get too excited and therefore can vacuum their food or favourite things. the Teletubbies shout 'Naughty Noo Noo' and chase him around the House. The Chase always ends with a Big Hug. Noo Noo has a removable brush on top of him, it's very rare that his brush is removed, it can be seen removed in the episode Swans and the video Big Hug.

Mark Dean from Wolverhampton played Noo Noo throughout the Teletubbies recordings. He also built props and carried out special effects.

Toy version.

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1983 – Household Robot with Floor sweeper and mop (Concept) – (Japanese)

1983 Household robot concept by a Japanese magazine. As well as the floor scrubber and mop, there are other cooking and serving functions as well.

(Source : ?)

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1990-2002 – Panasonic Vacuum Cleaning Robot – (Japanese)

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., produces its first patent for a "Self-Running Cleaning Apparatus" in 1990.

Publication number US5109566 A . Also published as US5284522
Publication date May 5, 1992
Filing date Jun 28, 1990 
Inventors Osamu Eguchi, Yasumichi Kobayashi, Shinji Kondoh, Haruo Terai, Hidetaka Yabuuchi
Original Assignee Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. Brand names are National and Panasonic.

Panasonic Develops “Vacuum Cleaning Robot”  – Fabrizio Pilato / Wednesday, March 27, 2002. Source: Here

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., best known worldwide for its Panasonic-brand products, today announced it is developing a vacuum cleaning robot for household use through an innovative autonomous control system that uses a wide array of sensors which allows the robot to roam around a room, detect dust particles, and ensure its safety. The new prototype not only vacuums a room autonomously, but also efficiently, providing for less laborious housework and an easier lifestyle. Field testing in real Japanese households of the vacuum cleaning robot will begin in May. While vacuum cleaning robots have been developed in the past, previous models have not been able to efficiently cover an entire room, thereby leaving behind much dirt and grime. Previous models have also not been able to completely evade dangerous areas. Matsushita’s new vacuum cleaning robot operates by optimizing its movements in compliance to the shape of the room, the type of floor and the amount of dust. The robot operates in a crossover pattern, moving vertically then horizontally around a room avoiding any obstacles in the process. The various sensors allow for the robot to operate automatically and safely while constantly sensing its surroundings. What’s best is that the vacuum cleaning robot is as powerful in picking up dust as regular vacuum cleaners. Some of the new technologies being used in the new system are the following: Obstacle Detection System: sensors that detect distance between the robot and obstacles Running Control System: a gyro in the main body and sensor in caster wheel that make robot move straight Sensing Control System: sensors that makes robot avoid drop from stairs or escape heating products Cleaning Power Control Technology: changes running speed and suction power depending on the amount of dust on the floor. The new vacuum cleaning robot can operate for 55 minutes on one charge, slightly more than conventional cordless vacuum cleaners. Matsushita Electric expects to continue development of the vacuum cleaning robot prototype as part of a wider initiative to meet the growing need for products that save time and lighten the burden of housework.

See other early remote-controlled and robotic vacuum cleaners and floor scrubbers here.


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