Now Your Roomba May Be Out to Get You

Now Your Roomba May Be Out to Get You
Illustration: Elena Scotti (Photos: Getty Images, Shutterstock

If this week (or year, really) has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t have nice things: A functioning democracy, the ability to hug someone you don’t live with…even onions. And now, it has come for our beloved vacuum robots — yes, the Roomba. When you think about it, they’ve always seemed a little too good to be true (Your very own robot who cleans up after you? Who are you, Judy Jetson?).

And if Roombas were ever to, say, become sentient and decide to revolt, you can’t really blame them for choosing right now to short circuit. Well, that’s what’s happening (the short circuiting part, there is no confirmation of a revolt), and iRobot, the manufacturer of the Roomba, has sent warnings to people with products that may have issues. Here’s what to know.

How To Ensure Your Roomba Doesn’t Make A Pet Mess Worse

If you have pets, you know they can create a mess. Some of that mess can be vacuumed up by your Roomba, and some of it will create an absolute disaster if it gets eaten by the robot vacuum. You know what I’m talking about. (I’m talking about poop.)

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What to know about the Roomba warning

On Monday of this week (so about 39 years ago), iRobot sent messages to owners of the Roomba i7+ warning them that the device’s docking station has the potential to malfunction and short circuit in the event that the robot vacuum accidentally sucks up liquid. As it turns out, the Roomba i7+ is only designed to pick up dry materials and is not a wet-dry vac. It’s already a robotic vacuum — can’t that be enough?

In situations where it does pick up liquid, and that liquid makes it into the charging base, it could cause the charging base to short circuit. And don’t be fooled by the chatty robot in the 1986 feature film of the same name: a short circuit can be a serious safety hazard, potentially resulting in circuit damage, overheating, fire, or an explosion.

“We learned that certain Roomba i7+ Clean Base docking stations could malfunction and potentially present a hazard if liquids are collected by the Roomba i7+ robot vacuum and deposited into the Clean Base unit,” iRobot said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Our vacuums are only designed for cleaning up dirt and debris from dry floors and carpets and should never be used to pick up any liquids.”

Tell Your Roomba To Stop Sharing A Map Of Your Home

The Roomba 900 Series offers a Clean Map Report, which maps your home as it vacuums, improving its movement and telling you how well it cleaned. But to get that map, according to customer service reps, you have to share it with Roomba’s creator iRobot. And that gives iRobot permission...

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Overall, iRobot estimates that around 222,000 units — 210,000 of which were sold in North America — are affected. If you’ve already received an email from the company this week, you can expect to get a replacement power cord or docking station from iRobot.

If you own a Roomba i7+ but did not get the warning message and want to double check to make sure yours is OK, you can call iRobot’s customer service line at 1 (800) 727-9077 for more information.

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