Apoocalypse now: When Roomba meets crap

One maxim apparently not programmed into the robot vacuum's prime directives? "If it's brown, don't spread it around."

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
2 min read

It's bad enough when one of your beloved household companions takes a dump on the rug. But it's even worse when another rubs it all over the house.

Users of the Roomba report that when the robot vacuums encounter pet feces during their rounds, the devices are apt to perform the opposite of their intended cleaning purpose: They get poop everywhere.

One user, Jesse Newton, describes the phenomenon in a Facebook post:

"It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be in your kids' toy boxes. If it's near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, which have a checkered surface for better traction, left 25ft poop trails all over the house," he said.

Here's Newton's diagram:

Jesse Newton

According to a spokesman for iRobot, the company that makes the Roomba, this kind of smear campaign isn't an isolated incident. "Quite honestly, we see this a lot," he told The Guardian.

"We generally tell people to try not to schedule your vacuum if you know you have dogs that may create such a mess. With animals anything can happen."

iRobot provided an additional statement to CNET via email:

"The large majority of iRobot customers who own pets greatly appreciate the help our robots provide with cleaning pet hair and rarely experience run-ins with pet 'messes.' Our guidance for customers with pets who are prone to accidents, such as a puppy that is house training, is to avoid using the Roomba's scheduling feature if a human is not present to inspect the floor conditions."

Watch this: iRobot's new 800 series robot vacuum: iRobot Roomba 880