iRobot updates Roomba, Scooba

iRobot will unveil two new robot cleaners at CES this week--the floor-washing Scooba 230 to fit in tighter spaces and the vacumming Roomba 700 series to pick up finer particles.

The floor-washing Scooba 230
The floor-washing Scooba 230 iRobot

People who hate housework will soon have two more robots to handle the chores.

iRobot this week will unveil the Scooba 230 floor washer and the next-generation Roomba 700 series of vacuums.

iRobot already has a line of Scooba floor washers, but the company is touting the Scooba 230 as a leaner cleaner. At 3.5 inches high and 6.5 inches wide, the 230 is geared to squeeze into tight places, such as underneath furniture and around bathroom fixtures. The 230 holds enough cleaning fluid to take care of 150 square feet of space in one session, iRobot said.

The Scooba will also incorporate iRobot's Virtual Wall technology, which sends out a beam the device won't cross, ensuring that it doesn't stray out of its assigned cleaning area.

The Roomba 700 series is the sixth generation of the robot cleaner, according to iRobot, and has been designed to vacuum up smaller, finer particles. The Roomba 770 and 780 models use a new acoustic sensor to find small material, such as sand, and an optical sensor to find larger but softer items, such as popcorn. Better air flow also helps pull hair and other debris off the brushes into the bin, the company said.

Both gadgets are set to hit the floor at the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 on Thursday and launch this spring.

Though iRobot is known for its series of house-cleaning Roombas, the company has also swept its way into other areas. Last spring, its Seaglider unmanned underwater vehicle helped gather information on the Gulf oil spill. iRobot has also been heavily involved in designing robots for military use, selling unmanned robotic devices to the U.S. and allied countries.

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