D5 and Dark Pattern Rug

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D5 and Dark Pattern Rug

Postby Botty » October 7th, 2018, 9:52 am

Having bought a D7 a couple of months back (love it, really pleased) I got a D5 yesterday that I can leave on another floor to do a daily clean. However the living room rug it needs to deal with has a pattern of large black and white tessellated triangles.

As soon as the D5 hits the rug and encounters the black triangles it panics and retreats from them, straight back into another black triangle so it sits there juddering back & forth in a panic until it runs out of battery. The D7 doesn't have this issue and just glides over the rug without a problem.

I know the roombas have a significant problem with dark patterned rugs and their cliff sensors, but the D7 led me to believe the Neatos were better at this. Do i need to look at covering up the D5 cliff sensors? If so, has anyone knocked together an idiot's guide for this.

Also, I always thought the D5 and D7 were fundamentally the same machine, with slightly better features on the D7. Is that not the case?


Unrelated observation - One positive of the D5 is that it's much more gentle and doesn't smash into walls & furniture like the D7 does.
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Re: D5 and Dark Pattern Rug

Postby glnc222 » October 7th, 2018, 12:08 pm

Most brands and models of vacuum robots have used the same type of optical cliff sensor which is usually defeated by dark floor colors, hard to predict. The measurement of distance to the floor -- and hence cliffs or any drop too deep to traverse -- is based on intensity of the light reflection, obviously dependent on the surface material.
There are other types of optical proximity sensors which use a parallax method of detection, documented in the hacking forum, similar to how the lidar measures distances independent of reflection intensity (which the lidar measures separately as additional data for pattern recognition). Makers advertised those components as less dependent on surface materials; however, there are not many of them. The newest, Fall 2018 Roomba model advertises some major improvement in cliff sensing, perhaps using the superior type of sensors for the first time in the industry. Whether the D7 also has improved these sensors is unknown. Experiments can show the difference, using the USB connection and the Neato Control program to continuously report readings from the sensors (as well as opening the unit and looking for the part identification).

So it would not be unusual to have to disable the cliff sensors on carpet with black patterns -- the most common problem -- using paper or light colored tape, masking tape etc. over the sensor window to create a false floor. Other methods must then be used for actual cliffs in the environment. Covering the window is so simple it has never been worth electrically disabling the sensors.

It is actually hard to find a material which defeats the sensors, as many common black colored materials still seem to reflect in infrared light used in the detectors. Yet it appears certain carpets are a problem. So it is hard to check these without having a particular problem carpet type to use for testing. There was once, maybe still, some black material sold for Roomba's using the cliff sensors as substitutes for magnetic tape barriers used on Neato; reports were they were not fully effective. "keep off" mats etc.
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Re: D5 and Dark Pattern Rug

Postby Botty » October 7th, 2018, 12:11 pm

thanks for the reply. you've reminded me to take a look at the neato updater software. I haven't played with that yet.

And I'll try some masking tape on the sensors.
Thanks again.
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