Have you ever spent an embarrassingly long time thinking about a household appliance? I have. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about our Roomba i3, which we affectionately refer to as pancake robot or burgerbot. I love that this thing exists and now that I’m the main person in charge of keeping the house tidy on a very manic schedule, it’s like my own R2D2. Sure, pancake robot doesn’t really clean the floors all that well, but it’s a semi-autonomous robot that operates inside our house, which is so cool that whether it does what it’s supposed to do is kinda beside the point right?
In all fairness, pancake robot isn’t that bad at its job. If you had to rank things on a vacuuming continuum, with me and my wife at one end and my kids and dog at the other, pancake robot would probably fall somewhere in the middle.
Our expectations may have been a bit too high when we got it.
We had to do a lot of training with the robot to tell it what spaces we wanted cleaned and what we didn’t. Later we learned we needed to have it do “mapping runs” to learn our space first before cleaning.
We learned that we needed to clear our space and remove obstacles in order for pancake robot to reach many spaces. Of course. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before.
We didn’t realize how often we would need to clean out pancake robot’s dust bin regularly (although more advanced models have this built it).
We forgot that we would need to replace the parts regularly, not just the filter but the rollers, and the swishing brush thing that grabs crumbs from the corners.
Also, there are all the times when we would need to save pancake robot, who gets hopelessly stuck rarely but still, it happens.
I know what you’re thinking: what is the point of this thing if it requires so much attention!?
Well, as long as the filters are clean, the chairs up, and the obstacles are cleared, the thing does a pretty good job of keeping the floors and carpets clean while I work and the kids are at school.
I’m getting used to making pancake robot the best robot it can be. When I get home from school drop off, the first thing I do is put all the chairs up, clear misc toys and obstacles off the floor, and let pancake have at the floors for the next 3-4 hours.
We’re getting to understand each other.
It feels like a ridiculous extravagance sometimes, but it gives me one less thing to do around the house and, most importantly, it makes me feel like my house is the hangar of a star port in another galaxy, with me and my droids quietly humming away looking after the facility.