Neato’s XV-11 is the new and upcoming robot vacuum. It does what others can’t – clean a room without randomly bumping around. The bot uses advanced mapping software and a killer laser range to find its way through a room with a single pass. Back when we visited Neato Robotics in Febuary, the XV-11 was slated for release by the end of the first quarter of 2010. Well June’s almost over, and none have shipped. What gives? I talked to VP Patrick De Neale to get the inside scoop on what caused the hold up, and to find out when we’ll see the XV-11 in our homes. Worry not bot-junkies, the next generation of vacuum bots is making its way stateside as we speak, and if you’ve pre-ordered your robot online, yours will be in the mail starting July 15. New sales (still $399) will launch in August.
After speaking with De Neale it became clear that the delayed release of the XV-11 was a symptom of our global interconnectivity. Electronic components in one part of the world have to be made and then shipped to another part of the world for assembly. Neato had a big snag in one part of its supply chain – and pow! – the XV-11s had to wait in pieces in the factory until the problem could be fixed. DeNeale couldn’t publicly comment on the exact specifics of the snag, but I can tell you that it was a “for a limited time only” sort of delay, and one that Neato can (and says they will) avoid in the future.
Clever engineers that they are, the guys at Neato tried to make the best of a bad situation. They made some improvements to the XV-11 software and improved the rotating brush of the vacuum to give a longer lifespan. Worth the wait? Maybe or maybe not, but it’s nice to see that the company didn’t rest on its heels while it was getting the kinks out of its manufacturing process.
As I mentioned when we first covered the XV-11, the age of robot vacuums has further implications than just cleaner floors. These are some of the first ‘socially’ recognizable robotic appliance. Sure your garage door opens automatically, your dishwasher cleans with the push of a button, and your microwave spins burritos like a pro – but none of these feels as robot-like as a vacuum that wanders your home on its own. For all intents and purposes, this is the first ‘real’ robot you’re welcoming into your life. The market for these household bots is expanding, and setting the stage for more humanoid machines in the years ahead.
Check in with the Hub over the next few weeks leading up to the XV-11’s ship date. We’ll have some great new video and pics coming soon, including footage you won’t be able to find anywhere else, and plenty more info from Neato’s top brass. Stay tuned.
[image credit: Neato Robotics]
[source: Patrick De Neale, Neato Press Release]