A robot that does floors

I have always been interested in electronic gadgets.  The people I worked with in my former occupation had a nickname for me, Inspector Gadget.  So when my wife told me that she wanted to get a Mint, you would think I’d be excited to get another electronic gadget.  Well, I wasn’t very excited about the prospect of another robotic floor care device.  If you’re not familiar with the Mint, it is a robotic hard floor cleaner.  It is supposed to sweep and mop floors autonomously.

You may recall, a few years back, when a robotic device called a Roomba came onto the market.  The Roomba is a robotic vacuum cleaner, or at least one version of the device is a vacuum cleaner.   The design was not great and it didn’t do a very good job of vacuuming when compared to a regular upright vacuum cleaner.  My wife borrowed one from her aunt and then we decided to buy our own.  After a few months, ours stopped working.  Since it didn’t do a very good job, we decided not to try to get it replaced.  We just resigned ourselves to go back to vacuuming the carpet the old fashion way.

This past week, my wife made a leap of faith by using some of her Christmas money to buy a Mint.  She asked me to unpack it, which I did.  I plugged it in to charge and I scanned the instructions.  My previous experience with the Roomba did not make me eager to figure out how to work this little gadget.

Yesterday, my avoidance of the inevitable came to an end.  I was cornered with a request to put the Mint into operation by telling it to sweep the office floor.  I told myself this was going to be a waste of time.  However, I was proven wrong.

The Mint is a device that is smaller than the Roomba.  It comes with a navigation cube that the manufacturer calls a GPS.  It’s not really a GPS (Global Positioning System).  What this cube does is to give the robot a reference point in the room where it is cleaning.  Once the Mint links up with the navigation cube, it keeps track of its location in the room as it moves about.  As I watched the robot start to sweep the floor, I figured that all of the obstacles in the room would cause it no end of trouble.  In the office, there are three desks, a book case, my computer rack, and a paper shredder.

The Mint started along the wall by the windows and the first obstacle it encountered was the paper shredder.  It maneuvered around the paper shredder, but seemed to skip the floor against the wall on the other side of the shredder.  It swept under desks, moving back and forth across the room, until it got to the other side of the room.  Then it performed a remarkable maneuver.  It went back to the part of the floor it had skipped on the other side of the shredder and it preceded to sweep there too.  Much to my surprise, there was almost nowhere in the office that it did not sweep.  What was equally shocking was the state of the sweeping pad when the Mint had finished.  The pad was absolutely filthy.

Today, the Mint was assigned to sweep the kitchen floor.  Our kitchen is another room with many obstacles; island counter, baker’s rack, breakfast table with floor rug.  With the navigation cube on the island counter, the Mint negotiated its way around the room and did a similarly amazing job of sweeping that floor.

If you don’t think $160 is too much to pay for a device that will sweep or mop your floor for you, consider trying the Mint.  We haven’t had it long enough to know whether it is more reliable than the Roomba.  But if it doesn’t break down, it will definitely be a useful addition to our household inventory.

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