Yes, rickgtoc, I am familiar with these pool vacs. I seem to have omitted them from the slideshow--my bad! My sister and her family have one and they do seem to work quite well and efficiently without much hassle.
Thanks for that comment, Reliabilityguru. The Roombas seem so popular so it's interesting to hear a negative side to it. I don't have one personally, so I wouldn't know about how it actually works in a home at all. So you stopped using the device?
You didn't do your homework. Robotic pool cleaners are electrically powered and include micro-processor control - the latest ones have 32 bit ARM processors inside, and there is a second processor in the power supply. "Wander semi randomly" doesn't do justice to the many hours of programming and testing that goes into making them work. The pressure or suction side pool cleaners you talk about are to a robotic pool cleaner what a broom is to a Roomba.
I thought I had remembered Rosie pushing a Hoover; I was assuming that Hanna-Barbera didn't have the same vision as George Lucas, to incorporate a suction directly into the Host system like an R2D2 .... But a quick look at Google-Images proved me wrong! Even in 1962, they had the vision of full system integration!
"Automated" pool vacs have been around for quite a while. Working under water is no big problem in that application. Materials have to be tolerant of water and pool treatment chemicalss. The motive and vacuum power is supplied by the pool filter circulation pump. No water-proofing or pressure vessel issues like one might have in a true submarine robot. And there's not a lot of "smarts" to most of the pool vacs. They wander semi-randomly along the bottom and part way up the wall of the pool. Let them wander long enough and they usually cover the whole bottom. Not exactly self-directed intelligence. But then, they do work. Or at least mine did back when I had a house with a pool.
We have a Roomba that sold as the pet owner's model. It requires what I consider a lot of maintenance. Before it is used the room has to be prepared. Anything on the floor except the furniture needs to be moved away. Between each use the brushes need to be combed, the debris bin emptied, and the filter cleaned. In addition, dog hair gets lodged everywhere and periodically all the nooks and crannies need cleaned. The motor and gearbox are not sealed and eventually dog hair and dirt cause the mechanism to freeze up. The gear box/motor assembly can be taken apart, cleaned, and reassembled if done very carefully. But this assembly, called the Cleaning Head, was not designed to be taken apart, it was designed to be removed and replaced for $50. Because of this, I consider the Roomba Robot as a geek's toy and not a serious home appliance. Most dog owners, including my wife, would be unable or disinclined to keep it operational for very long.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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