Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bad luck with robots

For the last several months, using my Scooba floor-mopping robot has been increasingly demanding. In the front of the robot is a bumper with sensors, so when it bumps into a wall, it knows that and turns to go away from it or follow its edge; but one of the two sensors in the bumper on the Scooba has been failing, so more and more often, it would hit a wall, keep pushing against it, and eventually stop and beep the "uh oh!" tones while flashing the "I'm stuck!" light. A nudge with my foot to get it away from the wall would get it going again; but some days I would have to nudge it every five minutes, and when it's that bad, the robot's barely helping.

I finally decided to contact Roomba to see what my options were for repair and replacement. Since their web-based support primarily consists of a system that tells you to call in for support, and they were closed one hour before their closing time the first day I tried to call, it took me several days to get through, only to find they don't have a repair option. Instead, they'll sell me just the chassis of a new Scooba for a greatly reduced price, so I have to use my existing batteries, charger, tank, walls, etc. The only downside is the only chassis they'll sell me is one model down from the one I have, so it won't run as long before I have to go empty the tank.

Scarcely a few days after that I'm trying to run the Roomba only to find that its brush-turning mechanism has failed. It only runs a short time before stopping, and barely picks up anything. The iRobot website's troubleshooting points to a problem that requires me to send in a request for service, which I have just now, but I bet they make me call... and since the robot is one month out of warranty, I wonder if this is something that can be repaired. Darned thing is only a bit over a year old!

I hope they can send me parts to repair it, or something like that, because I don't want to have to buy another one. I've had a lot of Roombas over the years and none has failed on me this early, so I hope it's just bad luck.

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