Front Page







World Summary

On Air


Talking Point


Text Only


Site Map

Sunday, November 30, 1997 Published at 01:20 GMT


A lot less bother...
image: [ The robot vacuum: prepare to put your feet up ]
The robot vacuum: prepare to put your feet up

The world's first robot vacuum cleaner that finds its own way around a carpet heralds the beginning of the end for housework as we know it.

A prototype of this obedient domestic automaton, designed by Electrolux, will be unveiled by Carol Vorderman on Monday at the Imagination Gallery in London.

Left to its own devices, the compact, rechargeable appliance vacuums the perimeter of the room, and then cleans the remaining floorspace in random zig-zag movements.

The robot navigates around corners and large objects using an acoustic radar system similar to that of a bat and is fitted with a sensitive bumper to stop it damaging the furniture.

It can get into tight spaces, slip under beds, and, most importantly, will not get stuck in the process. Electrolux say that the robot will vacuum about 95% of an average room's floor space.

The invention extends robotic technology that the company developed for a solar-powered lawn mower and the motion design owes much to a tiny prehistoric bug called the Trilobite which trawled the ocean bed.

So far, this vacuum has not been made available to consumers because it is still undergoing rigorous tests but the manufacturers say that it is just a taste of household maintenance devices to come.

From the bulky contraptions of the 1920s, and the '50s and '70s retro uprights to today's increasingly slimline and efficient vacuuming equipment, a future enhanced by ultimate cleaning machines seems assured.

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

Internet Links

Milestones in Electrolux Vacuum Cleaner History

Robotics-Related Web Servers

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online

UK Contents

Northern Ireland