Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

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Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby JEfromCanada » May 29th, 2019, 5:38 am

I just finished reading an article about upcoming robotic vacuum development at iRobot, and it seems there's a new S9 on the way that is D-shaped. I have no idea whether this will mean royalty payments to Neato Robotics, but it certainly means that the inherent advantage of a robot that can get closer to corners will no longer be a unique feature of the Neato.

Could this spell the end of Neato as a competitor?
Current robots:
Roomba Discovery 4210 (R.I.P. - Freecycled)
Roomba 560 (retired)
Neato XV-11 SW version 3.1.17844, LDS version 2.6.15295, with Pet Brush and Vic's filter (sold)
Neato Botvac 80 SW version 1.1.97, LDS version 2.6.15295, Board SW version 22753
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby glnc222 » May 29th, 2019, 4:37 pm

Neato is a division of Vorwerk with the latter mainly sold in Germany, and not at all in the U.S. They bought it out a few years ago. So it is a question of Roomba competition within Germany with Vorwerk. I don't think the "D" shape and performance in corners means much as Neato was never able to take much market share from iRobot (or it would not have needed takeover by Vorwerk). I am not sure why iRobot is not more vulnerable to competition, possibly superior marketing skills. Roomba's seem to be in more stores than Neato. I don't know the unique German market situation. Neato has seemed to me to compete on price, less expensive than equivalent Roomba's, at least in the U.S.
iRobot is big enough to afford some television commercials. Never seen any for Neato.

Lot of players in the industry now compared to when Neato started some fifteen years ago. iRobot is not their only competitor.

Review of new 2019 Roomba 59+ https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2019/05/the-2019-roomba-gets-an-all-new-design-companion-mop-bot/
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby voicegy » June 16th, 2019, 1:21 pm

WOW, finally iRobot figured out what Neato knew for years - the best design for a robot vacuum is to use the SAME design as a traditional upright vacuum. THIS is exactly why I've been a Neato fan since they first came out - it just makes sense.

Although I'm disheartened that iRobot did what basically amounts to a complete copy-cat ripoff of my beloved Neato (how DARE they! the nerve! Grumble, grumble...), even after looking at several videos of the device in action (the folks at the YouTube channel Vacuum Wars were astonished by the S9 and frankly, so was I) it was tempting to contemplate jumping ship from Neato to iRobot - but the latter still fails miserably in 2 categories very important to me:

Neato "no-go" lines. Nothing out there like it. Can't be beat. A fantastic feature miles ahead of iRobot's clunky virtual wall barriers.

Neato Lidar navigation. I like waking up to a clean floor. It's a complete deal breaker for me if I can't run a robotic vacuum overnight while I'm asleep. iRobot as with many others out there needs a light on in each room to perform well. Not about to bend over backwards setting timers for lighting for a cleaning run via HUE to accommodate.

Now, that being said, I am very impressed with iRobot's Clean Base™ Automatic Dirt Disposal option for the S9. Currently I empty out my Neato D7 once a week - he runs every other night during the week (I don't have pets, so I can get away with waiting after a few runs before emptying.) I would LOVE to be even more lazy and not have to 'empty' the bin for months at a time.

There are a couple of things I would like Neato to do for the next generation of device / software:

1. Upgrade/update the Neato Alexa app so I can tell Alexa to "Clean the (insert room of choice here)" - this would be ideal for those quick-clean needs before guests come over, if one room experienced more of a need than another for some reason, etc. Sure, I can do this already in the Neato app, but shouting out to the house that the kitchen needs vacuuming would be so much more handy.

2. Think hard about this, Neato - iRobot's Clean Base™ Automatic Dirt Disposal option is as close to nirvana as it can get for true autonomous hands-free vacuuming for weeks at a time. I'd buy it in a heartbeat. :pray:
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby Botty » June 16th, 2019, 3:43 pm

no-go lines are the clincher. it's unacceptable they don't exist in a £1500 robot
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby Mekerz86 » June 17th, 2019, 3:26 pm

I actually don't think Neato take advantage of their D bot shape, their navigation logic is completely flawed in my opinion after watching my new D7 I've owned for nearly week.

For example, I find the robot will hug the wall (with the wall to the right of the bot, as that's where the main brush is closest to the edge) but if the wall falls away because of lets say, a recess for a door, the bot won't turn tight right to get the brush right into the corner. Rather, it will nudge closer to the wall whilst still continuing forward, essentially creating a triangle of uncleaned area.

Now, this wouldn't be a problem if the bot later approached this door from a perpendicular angle/ 90 degrees to the path where it originally missed the aforementioned triangular area, but I find it doesn't do this.

Coming from the original Xiaomi Mija 1st rev bot, I have to say Neato's navigation leaves a lot to be desired. For example, when travelling to a specific zone to clean, I find the Neato will take a zigzag path as if it needs to follow a wall/object to get there, rather than just the most efficient straight line to get there. These aren't reflective obstacles either, just cupboards and walls.

I also find my Neato D7 will get into a simple corner, then try to sharp turn before reversing as the front bumper is square and catches the wall which the bot responds to be reversing before turning more. Yet it ends up reversing the bot up the other wall making up the corner.

Last but not least, I think the sole use of LIDAR for front detection (ignoring collision bumper) is a bad design choice. A lot of my furniture has slanted legs meaning the legs appear further away to the LIDAR that is on top of the bot vs where they actually are. Again, Xiaomi get around this with Ultra sonic (at least on the 1st revision) on the front so that it can detect exactly what is in front of it.

The Ultimate bot for me is one that uses LIDAR for general navigation but with other sensors, especially on the front to assist. It would also be D shaped, but would scan the room and work out the best way/angle to get to all corners the bot can physically get in and out of and base its work path on that. Perhaps it would also use a camera for AI object detection such as socks, cables and pet mess. At the moment, I really do think that no matter which brand you go for, you have to concede in at least one or more areas.
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby eqwalker » June 17th, 2019, 3:52 pm

I have to agree with Voicegy about the navigation. I have had a total of 15 Roomba's of various models and know their actions well and I have had 4 Neato's (various models) along with 4 old Trilobytes. Now I have a Samsung Powerbot 9350 because it is the only thing that can handle the thick carpet with it's 4" wheels. I so wish for the Samsung to have LIDAR. I hate having to turn on lights in the room so it can see. That is a major flaw to me since the Neato's ran at night and in dark rooms that were not being used. I never had an issue with any of my Neato's due to the LIDAR. Navigation has never been an issue for any of mine as well and I never experienced the issue that Mekerz86 speaks of. I would still be using the Neatos if it wasn't for the struggle of moving in deep carpet. But I have to say, this Samsung Powerbot is one heck of a vac as far as power is concerned and it does a fantastic job on the carpet. I just wish it had LIDAR so it could run at night. Oh well, one can wish....
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby Mekerz86 » June 17th, 2019, 4:20 pm

Obviously navigation is really dependant on people's individual room setups and obstacles.

Here's a video of mine reversing up a wall. Apologies for the vertical recording sin, I was just lazy recording the bot in action to show a friend that I had bowed to my need for another gadget and it so happened to do the reverse thing.

As you can see, there's nothing complex about this corner in terms of obstacles. Perhaps you could blame the bumper catching the drain valve on the radiator and the bot then backing out to take a different angle. However, on the opposite side of the same wall there is a very simple corner where a breakfast bar meets the wall and the bot did the same thing there too.

I know there's a gentle navigation mode but I find that makes the bot not get right up to edges of walls.

https://youtu.be/fZo9yQfBfbM
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby eqwalker » June 17th, 2019, 5:11 pm

I see what you are saying and yes it does depend on the environment. I don't have radiator heat sources that have pipes that it would have to navigate especially close in a corner so I never have had to deal with that type of issue. It appears that the pipe is preventing it from turning the front along the wall to make the turn. I have since moved into a house with thick carpet so I don't use mine much anymore but I can see where yours is having the issue.
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby voicegy » June 28th, 2019, 11:38 am

In my previous post above, I stated:

Neato "no-go" lines. Nothing out there like it. Can't be beat. A fantastic feature miles ahead of iRobot's clunky virtual wall barriers.

Well....it looks as if iRobot is now getting into that game as well:

https://homesupport.irobot.com/app/answ ... t-zones%3F

Wow.
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Re: Oh crap - Neato loses its advantage

Postby JEfromCanada » June 28th, 2019, 4:41 pm

It sucks all right. What sucks more is that all the "clones" initially adopted the ROUND robot shape, made famous by iRobot. If iRobot now acknowledges the advantage of D-shaped machines, you can expect to see a raft of other D-shaped me-too robots, and that should spell the end of the Neato, since they are too small to compete on a global scale, even with Vorwerk behind them.
Current robots:
Roomba Discovery 4210 (R.I.P. - Freecycled)
Roomba 560 (retired)
Neato XV-11 SW version 3.1.17844, LDS version 2.6.15295, with Pet Brush and Vic's filter (sold)
Neato Botvac 80 SW version 1.1.97, LDS version 2.6.15295, Board SW version 22753
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