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Vacuum Cleaners

Dyson's cleaning robot gets sharper night vision, smarter mapping

The company's latest robot vacuum sees more in the dark and makes better maps, but it'll be sold only in China.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Dyson has plans for a new and improved robot vacuum, the Dyson 360 Heurist. Unveiled almost on the sly in Beijing, this automated cleaning machine is slated only for China. That's too bad, since the Heurist comes with several enhancements that, according to Dyson, include significantly better navigation in dark rooms, and greater computing power.

Engadget first reported the new robocleaner, and Dyson confirmed the new product to me.

If the Heurist looks familiar, that's no accident: It's a close cousin to the previous 360 Eye model. Three years ago, when we put the Dyson 360 Eye through its paces, we found it was an acceptable but not outstanding robot vacuum. It couldn't pick up as much dirt from our test floors as other robots that cost a lot less. That's a big problem for any vacuum, especially one with a $1,000 price tag. The $700 Neato Botvac Connected performed better, for example. 

The 360 Heurist has 20 percent greater suction than its predecessor and the British vacuum-maker says it will be much smarter too. Tucked away inside the machine is a 1.4GHz quadcore processor, 20 times faster than what came with the old unit. As a result the machine should comprehend its environment in more detail, and thus presumably have a better idea about where to clean. 

Dyson has also added LED lighting to augment the robot's camera-based navigation system. It's designed to help the Heurist see in the dark more clearly. Dyson claims all these upgrades translate to better maps, fewer bumps and increased navigational accuracy.

Multiple floors, maps within maps

Other robot vacuum makers have targeted maps and navigation as areas for improvement too. Neato recently added what it calls "zone cleaning" to its $799 Botvac D7 Connected vacuum. It allows you to create custom regions of your home, then have the Botvac focus solely on that location. Neato also enabled multiple floor mapping across its whole connected robot lineup.

iRobot's most advanced vacuum yet, the $949 Roomba i7+ takes the cake. The machine can create and store up to 10 floor plan maps. Within those maps, you can also label and select areas for targeted cleaning. Of course the slickest of the i7+'s abilities is its CleanBase charging station. The CleanBase not only tops off the robot's battery, it empties the Roomba's dustbin too.

The Roomba i7+ and CleanBase dock.

iRobot

Only in China

I specifically want to know if and when the 360 Heurist will ever hit US shores, or even other parts of the globe. The Dyson spokesperson I reached could confirm few details about the product, only that the Dyson 360 Heurist was announced in Beijing on Sept. 12, and that for now it's slated for China alone.