Question about i7+ maps

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Question about i7+ maps

Postby Julian » March 31st, 2019, 11:06 am

I have a couple of rooms in my apartment that have become dumping rooms and are currently definitely a no-go-area for a Roomba (there would be no point anyway). I plan to do a sort-out and then get a rubbish clearance company to remove all the unwanted stuff (really - I do; I promise!) but it's going to take a while and I'm not sure I can bring myself to wait any longer to get the i7+ which looks to be everything I've ever wanted in a Roomba so...

If I run an i7+ in my apartment for a few months with a couple of doors closed off to the no-go rooms then presumably the Roomba will build a good map of the main bit of my apartment. As soon as a good enough map is built (after 2 or 3 whole-apartment runs?) I would then want to label the rooms and switch to specific schedules so that the i7+ cleans my rooms on an alternating cycle, probably doing the living areas 3 or 4 days a week and the main bedroom and rear hallway/corridor areas 2 or 3 days a week and guest bedroom maybe once a week.

If in a few months time I do finally overcome my laziness and procrastination and get my two remaining rooms cleared then what do I do to get the i7+ to include the new rooms in the map so that I'm able to add those into my cleaning schedule? I'm hoping that I don't need to do a full reset and build the whole apartment map from scratch and that there is some way that I can get the i7+ to discover the new rooms and add them to what would by then be a very solid map of the main bit of my apartment.

My guess at the strategy would be, once I can open the doors to the extra 2 rooms, set the i7+ to do whole-apartment cleans for maybe just 2 or 3 runs during which time it would find two extra rooms and expand its map to include those 2 new rooms. At that point the mapping of the two new rooms might be considerably less accurate than the rest of the apartment but as long as it has got the doorways in the right places and at least enough of the shape of the rooms for me to label them correctly then I can go back to selective scheduling and each time one of the new rooms is in a scheduled run the i7+ will gradually refine the accuracy of the section of the map covering the new rooms.

Is that how it is likely to work? Are there any downsides in this approach (if indeed it would work) and would I be better for some reason to wipe the existing map and let the i7+ do a whole-apartment remapping once I get my rubble clearance done?

I'm just itching to buy this thing. iRobot seem to have done a perfect job of implementing my dream spec. If I've understood what I've read about it correctly I literally can't think of a single thing I would change. Obviously I always want things to be cheaper but, given that I'm still using the original two Roombas that I bought in 2009 and the second one in 2010 as my primary floor cleaning devices, I really don't begrudge iRobot the outlay on a new i7+ even at current prices.

My trusty Roomba 560s definitely will not be taking any final journey with the rubbish removal people. I have become far too attached to them to consign them to the garbage heap, especially the first one that has given me 10 years of solid service although I did treat it to an upgrade to metal bearings for the brush unit fairly early in its life.

- Julian
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby Brett » March 31st, 2019, 11:16 pm

You're overthinking it!
Just let it clean the whole house every time, if it finds the door open it will clean in there.
If you really don;t want it to clean in a guest room that is seldom used, just close the door.
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby RTC » April 1st, 2019, 1:06 am

Entire thread is becoming "mud slinging"...
Last edited by RTC on April 3rd, 2019, 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby Julian » April 1st, 2019, 4:52 am

Thanks for the suggestions but I'm afraid they just don't work for me, or at least seem ridiculously sub-optimal to ignore a feature that I'm paying at least some of the £1,200 purchase price for.

I have a 150 square metre apartment and I want some bits of it (entrance hallway, kitchen and main reception room) cleaned almost daily in the mornings before I get up. The main bedroom and rear hallway areas I want cleaned in the afternoon when I am working in a home-office in the middle section of my apartment, again probably the majority but not every day of the week. On maybe one day a week I want that rear area to also include my other bedrooms with maybe my home office on a schedule somewhere between the two and probably done in the late evening when I won't be using it. I also have a second reception room that I haven't quite decided how to schedule, maybe twice a week (it's one of my dumping rooms at the moment). Add to that the fact that I plan to keep my new Roomba in a utility room towards the middle of my apartment (since the i7+ can no longer be hidden under sofas etc) so using the mapping feature to have it trundle through areas it isn't going to clean that day to get to where I want it to clean seems most logical and efficient plus all this allows me to have the Roomba always doing a clean of a particular area at a time when I can pretty much be guaranteed to not be using that area.

The closed-door suggestion involves me pre-configuring the doors every evening to set the behaviour for the following day ("is tomorrow Friday in which case I need to make sure the doors to bedrooms 2 and 3 are open? Is it a Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday in which case I need to close the door to the second reception room? etc, etc"). The virtual wall suggestion is also sub-optimal since another big thing for me with the i7 will be the ability to get rid of all the Buck Rogers style virtual walls that are currently scattered all around my house (I currently do some quite sophisticated stuff with 6 virtual walls and lighthouses plus some timers that has worked fairly well for the last 9/10 years but they look ugly and chew up batteries in the ones where there hasn't been a convenient power socket to hard-wire them to). Sadly the newer neater looking virtual walls are only in black which will actually look worse with my decor - I've no idea why they didn't do them in white but hopefully the i7+ will make them obsolete and even if they were an option I don't want all the floor clutter, wires along the skirting boards in some cases and battery replacement hassle where I can't hard-wire them, plus the exclusion zones that the halos create that need an occasional hand-vacuum now and then are avoided by using the i7 mapping capabilities.

Sorry but I'm about to pay £1,200 for an i7+ and I don't intend to not use what, along with the self-emptying bin, is the most exciting new feature for me with, along with the self-emptying bin, contribute to an i7+ being (in theory - depends on brush tangles but I don't have pets) a totally setup-and-forget solution except for maybe a once every 2 or 3 weeks emptying of the bin and checking the brushes. I really don't want to be fussing every evening with re-configuring doors or virtual walls.

- Julian
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby RTC » April 1st, 2019, 9:44 am

Entire thread is becoming "mud slinging"...
Last edited by RTC on April 3rd, 2019, 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby babakonda » April 1st, 2019, 3:26 pm

I don’t have the i7 but from what I’ve read you seem to have a good plan. Once you declutter those rooms, let it map (learn) the entire place again, name the rooms again, create virtual no-go zones etc, and set a new schedule which fits your idea.
What’s the issue here, exactly?
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby Brett » April 1st, 2019, 11:23 pm

Bear in mind that this is a robot vac with a battery - it's not going to be sucking up any bowling balls! One of the main reasons for a small low power device being so effective is that it works so regularly!

As for not using a feature you have paid for, well, that feature is just software. Some kiddies on the internet said "Wouldn't it be cool if we could sit at the office at work and tell the robot to clean the kitchen?" Just software was added and now there is a whole new "feature" to add into the marketing blurb... But do not think that you are in some way not using it properly because you don't have some over complicated regime in place.

If you are indeed always at home then I understand you wanting it to clean the places that you are not - once you are "over" watching it work, then it can be damn irritating buzzing (loudly) round your ankles as you do whatever it is that you do.

Keep it simple - as far as possible, make it clean everywhere every day.
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby Julian » April 2nd, 2019, 4:31 am

RTC - Thanks for the advice on iRobot's customer support chat. I think I'm going to go ahead and buy anyway since, as I explain in my answer to babakonda below, my "issue" is more curiosity and the worst-case answer would only be a minor temporary inefficiency rather than something that makes the i7+ unusable for me.

On your tremor issue, sorry to hear about that. One thought occurred to me if you really do want to get into the smartphone-driven features then, and I confess that I haven't done this myself, have you considered running the required Roomba smartphone app on a PC? As I say, I haven't tried it myself but a quick Google found this web article (https://www.techadvisor.co.uk/how-to/go ... s-3504642/) on ways to do it and once done I assume interaction with the app is via whatever device you use to manipulate the Windows pointer. If you use a Mac or Linux I'd be surprised if there aren't similar solutions available for those platforms. Just a thought.

babakonda wrote:I don’t have the i7 but from what I’ve read you seem to have a good plan. Once you declutter those rooms, let it map (learn) the entire place again, name the rooms again, create virtual no-go zones etc, and set a new schedule which fits your idea.
What’s the issue here, exactly?

Mostly curiosity I suppose rather than any show-stopping issue. I was hoping that there might be some relevant real-life user experience of the i7/i7+ to tap into here given the depth of knowledge on this forum about other Roombas. I guess the i7/i7+ is just too new for the same depth of user experience to have built up yet. My curiosity was whether, after my declutter, I would have to actually have it relearn the entire place and name all the rooms again or whether, once the doors to the decluttered rooms were opened, it would incrementally add them to what would by then be a quite accurate existing map of the rest of the apartment.

Brett - I have been using Roombas since 2009. I'm certainly familiar with concepts such as "One of the main reasons for a small low power device being so effective is that it works so regularly!"! After a decade of daily use, 9 of those years using twin Roombas (one for front, one for middle and back of my apartment and in both cases with behaviour modified by timer-controlled virtual walls and cleaning behaviour optimised using lighthouses) I know exactly what frequency of cleaning for each room collects how much debris each run. Just as well actually because that's one thing an i7+ will hide from the user. In my early days of tuning my 560-based installation the process of emptying the bin and clearing the brushes after each run was a good indication as to whether the frequency needed to be increased for certain areas or maybe could be decreased for others based on whether the bin tended to be very full vs half empty. I get the impression that for pretty much every high-end Roomba since my vintage 2009 560s iRobot has mentioned increased suction power vs its predecessor so I suspect I might end up doing some re-tuning of the schedules but we'll see. To do that I will need to find some way to intervene and look at the on-board bin before it is emptied at the end of a run.

One final point. As a software engineer I must say that I find your comment "... that feature is just software. Some kiddies on the internet said "Wouldn't it be cool if we could sit at the office at work and tell the robot to clean the kitchen?" Just software was added and now there is a whole new "feature" to add into the marketing blurb..." quite offensive.

Is innovation in software somehow less worthy than innovations elsewhere? Is all new software driven by "kiddies on the internet" saying things like "hey, wouldn't it be great if we could use certain AI algorithms to improve detection rates and/or treatment recommendations for various types of cancer"? Innovation isn't only about shrinking die sizes, improving battery chemistry, making more efficient OLED displays etc. Innovation in software is shaping much of our world at the moment and, particularly in the field of AI, most people simply have no idea of the monumental challenges that have already been overcome in getting us things like Alexa or Google Home's continuous speech recognition capabilities or of quite how big the challenges are at the moment of progressing beyond that point.

Anyway, I don't want to start an argument but as an ex AI researcher who dedicated many years of his life to natural language research that "just software - kiddies on the internet" comment annoyed me.

I think I'll just push the "buy" button and buy an i7+ and see whether it will incrementally add to an existing map in such a way that I can label newly discovered rooms as additions to an existing map or whether I need to clear the existing map and rebuilt it from scratch in order to be able to correctly label the full set of rooms once they are all in play. Either way, after a month or so I'm sure it will have rebuilt an accurate map of all rooms, even the ones I only have it set to go into once a week, so if I have to do it twice it's not a big deal.

- Julian
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby RTC » April 2nd, 2019, 9:44 am

Entire thread is becoming "mud slinging"...
Last edited by RTC on April 3rd, 2019, 5:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby Brett » April 3rd, 2019, 4:41 am

Julian wrote:... Brett - what he said...

Soz not soz if I upset you.

One sure thing about the kiddies on the Internet is that they all have their opinion, as do I. So as a software guru then you will be well aware of spurious "features" added to all sorts of gizmos and promoted as if those "features" were the raison d'etre all along often solving problems you didn't know you had?

The next sure fire guy you find on the web is the guy that asks a question (usually leaving out context and background info) and then gets angry when an answer does not match what he wanted, then throwing in all that background info to proove that what someone has taken the time to propose is no good.

Sorry - I forgot - you know all this.

My original point stands - you are overthinking this. It's a bloody vacuum cleaner!! Your urge, after 9 years of use, to complicate it so says... Maybe you need a hobby?!
Have you tried Scuba diving?

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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby Julian » April 3rd, 2019, 5:09 am

Fair enough Brett. A civilised debate, often a rarity when it is actual kiddies debating on the internet, but we seem to be two grown ups who happen to disagree so fair enough. I do overthink things sometimes and often not doing that is good advice but I took early-retirement from my IT career so in this case is going over-the-top in exploring every feature of a new gadget unwise/unnecessary or indulging a hobby/passion? I think your advice is reasonable for the person in a hurry that wants to get something up an running with minimum fuss but for me indulging a passion (for technology) as much as anything - no way! The one hour delivery time slot for the couriers to deliver my new i7+ starts in 51 minutes :)

I completely agree with you on the "next sure fire guy you find on the web". That does drive me nuts. Why ask a question if you've already selected an answer that you plan to defend against all contrary evidence or more qualified expert opinion?

I did laugh re hobby/scuba-diving - a reasonable observation and a good recommendation (I have some scuba-diving friends). Actually one of my other hobbies is playing electric guitar and believe me, if you want something that gets complicated with the potential for the "over-thinking it", the selection and getting the settings right on amp, speakers and effects units plus the choices available is definitely way up towards the top of the complicated equipment tree. There I do try to avoid overthinking it and just play because the black hole you could get sucked into to create just the right tone is virtually infinite.

Anyway, I should find out soon enough how the mapping algorithms on the i7+ do actually behave in practice. Maybe my next new hobby needs to be de-cluttering those two unusable rooms though!

- Julian

P.S. Just noticed your sig. "Time flies like an arrow" is the standard example sentence used in a gazillion text books on AI to demonstrate the complexities of syntactic and semantic ambiguity. That's a weird coincidence given my background was natural language and I heard, read and discussed it so often that that sentence seems almost as much a part of my early studying and working years as the music that I was listening to at the time; it's a part of the soundtrack to my life.
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Re: Question about i7+ maps

Postby Brett » April 3rd, 2019, 7:47 am

All good! I guess somebody has to be the one to test the boundaries, and leave us plodders behind...

Steel-string acoustic for me - but I don't play it soften enough so hurts like buggery, and ultimately I get frustrated that I have zero creativity with the damn thing.

I wonder what AI would make of: "Fruit flies like a banana"?

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