Robot vacuums were supposed to liberate us from the drudging chore of tidying. But despite improving in leaps and bounds since they first rolled into our lives, there are still some tasks that are out of their reach.
Now, a company called Migo Robotics is promising to take robovacs up a level… literally. The firm’s new droid, fittingly dubbed The Ascender, can apparently climb and clean stairs - a pitfall for other robot vacuums.
When it encounters a set of steps, the bot transforms its shape by using a pair of legs to hoist its body up, before pulling those legs up with it. It then moves side to side using omni-directional wheels to hoover and mop the surface, repeating the routine on each level.
While the Migo Robotics website is light on details, we assume the droid keeps performing this technique on each step until it reaches the top. If it can go up, the bot should presumably be able to clean stairs on the way down as well. Let’s hope it doesn’t climb out of the window and escape once it gets tired of doing your dirty work.
When it’s not transforming, The Ascender works (and looks) a lot like a traditional robot vacuum. The droid uses laser sensors to map a room in order to move around objects and furniture. A companion mobile app allows you to set up areas for it to avoid, and you can control it using voice assistants like Alexa.
Migo Robotics claims that The Ascender can clean up to 5,167 square feet of floors, but there’s no mention of its exact battery life. We’d assume that hefting itself up the stairs is likely to take a toll on its power.
Buying it isn’t as easy as snapping up a Roomba either. Migo Robotics is currently crowdfunding The Ascender and asking prospective buyers to make a $5 (£3.99) deposit in order to receive a $400 discount on the bot. This way you’ll get it for $999 (£797), instead of its original price of $1,399 (£1,116) when it arrives in August.
Before you hand over your hard-earned cash, it’s worth noting that the images we’ve seen of the droid thus far all appear to be renders. Migo Robotics is also an unknown in the world of robovacs: We didn’t see any other products listed on its website or elsewhere online, so it’s hard to compare its output to competing brands.
Though it has the upper hand when it comes to cleaning multiple levels, the droid will have its work cut out beating its rivals in other departments. The best robovacs can already hoover and mop your floors, clean a whole house on a single charge, automatically empty their dust bins, and even return to their docking stations to recharge their batteries.
Still, a dust-busting bot that can climb stairs would be ideal for anyone who lives in a multi-story home. Here’s hoping other robovac makers like Dyson are taking note.