So Anyway, This Robot Vacuum Can Climb and Clean Stairs

So Anyway, This Robot Vacuum Can Climb and Clean Stairs

Although they claim to make cleaning easier, robot vacuums often require as much attention and care as a toddler. The Ascender wants to change that, and its creators are claiming it’s the first robovac that can both climb and clean stairs: an obstacle that’s usually a death trap for most autonomous cleaners.

The earliest robovacs didn’t quite deliver on the promise of eliminating the chore of vacuuming. They’d randomly crisscross a room and bounce off walls with limited battery life and even less suction power. But they’ve vastly improved over the years, and now not only intelligently navigate the rooms of a house while deftly avoiding obstacles, but they can also autonomously find their way back to a charging base when their battery gets low, empty their own dirt bins, and some models even mop, as well.

The one thing robovacs have never been able to do is navigate between multiple floors of a house, or, more specifically, get from one floor to another without a catastrophic fall down a flight of stairs. Many robovacs have been completely destroyed this way, even with added intelligence and edge detection that’s supposed to keep them safe.

This is exactly the reason the Ascender caught our eye. It’s from a company called Migo Robotics which claims to have a team with “outstanding experts from Google, Boston Dynamics, Dyson, and Ecovacs, working to drive innovation in the industry.” It’s a robovac that can both suck up dirt and mop floors, but that’s not what makes it noteworthy.

When it rolls up to a set of stairs, the Ascender doesn’t change direction. Instead, it uses a pair of what look like articulated legs to hoist the body of the robovac up onto the step, before lifting up those two legs and transforming back into what looks more or less like a run-of-the-mill robovac. The robot is then able to clean the step using omni-directional wheels that allow it to manoeuvre from side to side without having to turn. This process then presumably happens over and over again until the robovac reaches the next floor. A similar process, but in reverse, would presumably allow it to descend stairs, too.

The Migo Robotics website doesn’t include a lot of details on the Ascender’s capabilities, but it will apparently rely on LiDAR scanners to map the rooms in a home in order to keep track of where it’s cleaned, plan the most efficient routes to a requested area that needs cleaning, and allow users to set up areas to avoid using a companion mobile app. Specifics on battery life or runtime aren’t provided other than a claim that the Ascender can clean up to 5,167 square feet of floors, but that will probably be much less after a stair climb.

The Ascender isn’t available yet, but we’ll be waiting.

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