For quite a few years now, iRobot has all but owned the personal robot sector with its successful line of Roomba cleaning robots. However as the price of manufacture of these types of device comes down and demand begins to grow, we’re beginning to see a lot more entrants into this increasingly competitive sector.
Evolution Robotics’ Mint is one of those new products. Where Roomba’s expertise lies in carpet, the $250 device’s speciality is hardwood and linoleum floors. While iRobot has its Scooba, the price still is a bit prohibitive at $299 (and up to $499 for the top-of-the-line model), and uses proprietary cleaners only available through iRobot itself.
What’s nice about Mint is the fact that it can use everyday wet and dry cleaning cloths that attach to a head much like you find on the Swiffer line of products. In fact, the company is keen to point out that you can use the Swiffer cloths with Mint, which means the cost of operation could potentially be much lower than its competitors.
The robot uses the same types of sensors as the Roomba/Scooba to detect its locations and ensure an even clean, and can run up to three hours on a single charge. Where it beats iRobot is its size — about 3 inches tall and a little bit under 10 inches wide — and the amount of produced noise. I found the Mint in the demonstration I saw to operate much quieter. Additionally sensors detect transitions in the flooring, so it won’t be going over your area rugs or carpets by mistake.
Mint’s price point is certainly aimed at taking iRobot head on, and its choice to allow the use of third-party cloths as I mentioned before is definitely an advantage as well. That said, Evolution and other competitors in the space still have the challenge of proving to the consumer why they would need such a product cause its still a several hundred dollar mop.
I guess however if cleaning floors is really that much of a hassle to you, you’ll pay just about anything to have sombody — or something else — do it.