The latest model of the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner recognises and avoidscables and “pet waste”, the manufacturer says.
Owners have previously documented the devices running into and then mindlesslyspreading pet faeces as they “clean”.
“Quite honestly, we see this a lot,” a company representative told theGuardian, in 2016 .
Rival devices already claim to avoid pet mess.
A Wired reviewer was “fairly confident” a new machine from Roborock, forexample, would avoid excrement.
iRobot, which makes the new Roomba, promised it would replace any of the newmachines, the Roomba j7+, that failed to avoid “solid” pet waste.
The algorithms controlling the robot had been trained on “hundreds ofthousands of images of real, fake, and simulated dog and cat waste”, arepresentative told CNet.
BBC News has asked the manufacturer if its guarantee will apply to less-solidpet waste.
In response an iRobot spokesperson said the promise, “does not apply to thenon-avoidance of materials other than solid cat or dog waste”.
Avoiding obstacles in a complex environment is a challenge facing manydifferent types of domestic robot.
And Dr Sophie Lund Rasmussen, of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, atthe University of Oxford, is working with robot-lawn-mower manufacturers tominimise their risk to hedgehogs.
She told BBC News her research, using hedgehog corpses collected from localrescue centres, showed “the sensor technologies used in the 18 differentmodels tested were not able to detect the hedgehogs at a distance” – thoughsome had stopped or change direction when in contact with the corpses.
But the challenges facing lawn-mowers and vacuum cleaners were not directlycomparable “as they serve different purposes and may not use the exact sametechnology”.
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