When Megan and I got married, I put a Roomba on our wedding registry on a whim — I didn’t actually think anyone would get one for us. But someone did, and it was a delight to have a robot servant in the house. I named it Rosie, and for the last seven years, it’s been dutifully cleaning the floors.
Seven years is a long time for a robot, as it turns out. Things break, and I’ve replaced its brush motor, brushes, and other random pieces over the years. I’ve even printed parts for it on occasion, and dismantled it completely for a couple of cleaning sessions. Robots that crawl around on the floor picking up dirt get dirty — go figure. It’s still chugging away, but it’s a bit louder, and doesn’t always work as well on the carpets.
I’ve been thinking of replacing it for a while now, and when another one popped up for sale, I splurged and bought one. This new one is a slightly upgraded model — a Roomba 640, which I’m calling Robbie. It’s a bit of a step up and a step down from Rosie, which is a Roomba 500 model. This new one is quieter, it seems like it’s a bit smarter, and it works exceptionally well. But while I can schedule Rosie to begin work at 9AM, this new one doesn’t have a scheduling feature, and it’s a little hard to tell when it’s charging. But, after running it in our bedroom, Megan came home and asked if I’d vacuumed it. High praise.
I’d originally thought that I’d hand off Rosie to a friend, but after putting the two of them together, I realized just how attached I’d become to it. That’s not uncommon, apparently. In Wired for War, P.W. Singer wrote about how soldiers became incredibly attached to their packbots (also made by iRobot). Rosie’s been a constant presence in the house, even though it can be loud and exasperating at times, it’s almost like a pet. So, Rosie will stick with what it’s good at — handling the harder floods downstairs, while Robbie will handle everything else — bedrooms and basement