Okay, so the video's a little silly—but the tech is impressive. The home robotics company Neato makes vacuums that do much the same thing as their better-known counterparts, iRobot's Roombas. But today the company announced a new feature that may give it an edge: Neato's newest vacuum, the D7, will build maps of its surroundings that users can then interact with.
It may not sound all that mind-blowing, but consider that less than two years ago the state of the art was a Roomba that built an ephemeral map that vanished as soon as a cleaning session was complete (see "The Roomba Now Sees and Maps a Home").
The maps created by D7's lasers, on the other hand, will stick around and be stored on Neato's servers (but won't be shared beyond that). Users will be able to access them and tell their robot to avoid sections of the house, if they like. And that's just the beginning. In an interview with Neato's CEO, Giacomo Marini, IEEE Spectrum learned that users will soon be able to do things like designate certain rooms for more frequent cleaning than others. And with a little machine learning, the robot may one day be able to figure out on its own which rooms or parts of rooms get dirtier, and adjust its cleaning schedule accordingly.
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