Mi Robot vacuum

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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby robocleaner » September 8th, 2016, 9:55 am

davidelewis wrote:Using the pre-order menu, shipping to USA costs $80 to $122, Canada costs $113, and the UK costs $80 to $118. That's a pretty hefty shipping fee!

Given the recent ban and/or prohibitive air-freight restriction on shipping anything containing a lithium battery (you can thank Boeing and their self-combusting lithium powered Dreamliner for that), costs of air-freighting a single product have become stupidly high. China Post have since implemented a total ban, so it's only select/specialist couriers who operate their own air-freight like DHL that take these on now - albeit at a high cost.

What the manufacturer will be looking for is a distributor to sea-ship either a 20 or 40-foot container of maybe 2500 or 5000 units, and distribute locally.

Rather than now rely on these third-party distributors who then mark-up the retail cost of the product, many Chinese manufacturers have just this last year started setting-up their own centralised distribution bases in (for example) Europe, sea-shipping cheaply in bulk to that location, and then ground shipping individual product direct to consumer from there - quickly and very cheaply - whilst giving that maker their own localised return/service base from which to operate too.

I recently bulk-shipped 2-palletts of goods weighing 1/2-ton and valued at £20,000 from Taiwan... it cost me just £80 to get it to England, albeit in took 10 days crossing the high seas, and a further 10 days clearing customs and then onwards to my chosen delivery destination. Someone buying a single product on Ebay or Amazon isn't going to want to wait that long, so a centralised/localised shipping depot in or near your own Country is becoming a must for many Chinese manufacturers. As it stands, I've also had Chinese goods shipped from such a Chinese base in low-cost Slovakia to England by ground-freight in just 48 hours and at no cost at all... it's the way these things will be in future.

When (if) that happens, this Mi Robot will be almost as cheap in your locality as it is in China. Watch out Neato/iRobot et al who tend to use expensive overseas third parties to distribute and retail, each adding their own heavy mark-ups.

davidelewis wrote:...but the Neato has a solid track record

A solid track record of what exactly? Failures? Mi Robot hasn't got too much to live up to, has it?!
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby davidelewis » September 8th, 2016, 12:30 pm

robocleaner wrote:Given the recent ban and/or prohibitive air-freight restriction on shipping anything containing a lithium battery ...

Interesting insights into the high shipping costs. I recently bought from China some replacement lithium batteries (packs of 6 x 18650) for bicycle headlights . The shipment kept on being delayed as the vendor was having a challenge finding a low-cost shipper to send from China to Canada.

robocleaner wrote:A solid track record of what exactly? Failures? Mi Robot hasn't got too much to live up to, has it?!

The Neato XV series were pretty solid ... I still have two of them operational. The original Botvac had problems and I believe that they were rushed to market too quickly. The D-series Botvac seem much more reliable and the upcoming D3 and D5 appear to be engineered for further reliability (no LCD screen).
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby glnc222 » September 8th, 2016, 2:07 pm

China Post have since implemented a total ban

Interesting since a year or so ago lithium cells from China on ebay came in U.S. mail, which could not be used by U.S. distributors needing ground couriers UPS, FedEx etc. (big in domestic packages here, now even linked into the postal service for final legs) The post office would possibly use air freight on any leg on long distances, no specific ground service. International air restrictions have been slowly tightening since freighter crashes, before the new planes replacing hydraulics with electric -- not just Boeing. The growing use of lithium batteries brought out the problem. The internal plane systems belatedly added fireproof containers. The problem was already known but it seems battery tech is an obscure specialty not prominent in the practice of aerospace engineering -- despite an historic space shuttle accident with fuel cells.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby mfortuna » September 8th, 2016, 3:46 pm

Fact check, what accident? There were missions that delayed take-off or were cut short because of fuel cells. I don't recall an accident due to fuel cells.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby robocleaner » September 8th, 2016, 4:21 pm

mfortuna wrote:Fact check, what accident? There were missions that delayed take-off or were cut short because of fuel cells. I don't recall an accident due to fuel cells.

There were several serious fire-inducing thermal runaway events on Dreamliners (some on the ground, some in flight) during late 2012 and into 2013 that caused (prompted) IATA to re-write the rules on Lithium cells in flight - introduced late 2013.

China Post used to ship anything to anywhere in the world for no money at all, and did this using regular scheduled flights - both passenger and cargo. On arrival in your Country, those goods were forwarded on to your door through the normal mail service. It was quick and cheap.

Since the end of 2013 and IATAs new rules, they've made it near impossible to carry lithium in the hold on scheduled flights, and certainly not using spare capacity in Passenger flight holds. Some specialist carriers who operate their own cargo airlines will carry lithium but only under the Dangerous Goods Act, for which even DHL publish a 60-page document stating the requirements (special packing arrangements) for carriage... even then its' expensive (the excessive amounts of documentation doesn't help), the cell sizes/capacities/weights are restricted, and you need to declare the condition to be perfect (you cannot for example air-freight a possibly dodgy battery for replacement under warranty).

It's a nightmare, which is why China Post now refuse to carry anything with Lithium cells at all... but we're off topic now.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby glnc222 » September 8th, 2016, 10:58 pm

Fact check, what accident?

I was thinking Apollo 13, movie and all, "Houston we have a problem", exploded gas tank? Perhaps not a good example. but plenty of real evidence behind IATA regs, promoted by Boeing separately. Samsung just recalled smartphones for fires from defects in battery manufacture. The common Lithium Ion has a runaway positive feedback effect from heat. Other lithium chemistries are safe, but lower energy density. The after market lithium Neato batteries are LiNMC, more common now, and good density -- the latest witches brew. Posted elsewhere was a NASA crush, short-out test, no fire. Used in power tool packs. It is recommended with phones and computers to use only major brand batteries made with adequate quality control. The materials must be free of contaminants to a high degree. The cheap lithium batteries are sold for flashlights.
There were other dangerous cargos, ironically including the oxygen generators for the emergency airplane cabin supplies.
When I experimented with LiFePo4 cells, another safe type, an accidental short got them too hot to touch, and they support very high discharge currents. Ruined those. Regular lithium ion would have burst and ignited. They depend on protective circuitry added. Small phone cells are one thing, but car battery size packs a lot more fuel.
Vorwerk has been using lithium batteries for years now, with no house fires reported in Germany.
Now the batteries must come from China by camel train over the Silk Road. The camel drivers are entertained by smartphones with Youtube.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby davidelewis » September 13th, 2016, 3:09 pm

Another YouTube video in Russian with the complete unboxing: https://youtu.be/ujY7tNSnrUo. (To view English subtitles, turn auto-generated Russian subtitles and then choose auto-translate.) The power supply is shown to work with 110-240 Volts/50-60 Hz but it's hard to tell what the plug-type is ...
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby davidelewis » September 13th, 2016, 5:45 pm

Just a thought ... the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum markets itself as having an "ultrasonic radar" (a.k.a. sonar)- as shown on the right side the photo below. Have any other consumer-grade robot vacuums used sonar before?

Image

BTW, the above photo is from a "promotional" tear-down of the Xiaomi Mi at: http://www.xiaomitoday.com/xiaomi-mi-ro ... assembled/
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby glnc222 » September 13th, 2016, 8:45 pm

The Vorwerk VR200 deluxe version of Neato supposedly has sonar, maybe some initial delay in offering, and certainly looks like it. As not distributed outside of Europe discussed mainly in the German Roboter-forum. I wonder whether it offers any real advantages. Supposedly it would not be fooled as much by dark colored objects absorbing IR sensor beams, but what about thin furniture legs? There are few reports dwelling on Vorwerk performance, compared to problems with WiFi or whatever.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby davidelewis » September 13th, 2016, 10:19 pm

glnc222 wrote:I wonder whether it [sonar] offers any real advantages. Supposedly it would not be fooled as much by dark colored objects absorbing IR sensor beams, but what about thin furniture legs?


Granted that the sonar provides "coarse resolution" data, but as it is located on the front edge of the Xiaomi Mi, I imagine that it will be useful for identifying low barriers (such as horizontal chair legs, clothing left by kids, etc.) that may be missed by the LIDAR. The LIDAR on my Neato XV's seam to miss these items ...

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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby glnc222 » September 13th, 2016, 10:44 pm

The low lying things are generally handled by bumper contact on the extant vacuums. I had to enhance the hastily designed bumper on the Powerbot (making it much more interesting than vacuuming...). I have also had to add a little padding (for which velcro very good) for the way it bangs some things (to protect the polished plastic robot as well as finish on furniture). This despite IR proximity sensors, hyped in the ads. Yet the Powerbot is very good at low lying things and even picks up a bright spot projected onto the floor by the remote and follows it around in a manual mode, a couple feet away. Getting the bots to make gentle contact with furniture sounds like a good objective, if they can manage it at reasonable cost. You never know how well these features, described only in terms of hardware instead of performance, actually work until tried. The Xiaomi certaintly doesn't seem to charge any more for it. Looks like a big break in market pricing. Who knows, maybe they don't even plan to make profits on it initially, with the convolutions in consumer product business.
The real question is whether it cleans well. It will have to reach the U.S. for CNET to review it. If they want my more demanding tests I'd need a free sample, but I'm the Rodney Dangerfield here.

[edit] The cantilever chair shown is the classic item first requiring lowering the Neato bumper with an add on strip, now even sold by an entrepreneur in Germany. The high clearance bumper virus pandemic in the engineering profession (vaccine still in development).
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby Brett » September 14th, 2016, 1:15 am

Some LG machines use ultrasound. I wondered what was behind those "holes"
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so I checked.

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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby robocleaner » September 14th, 2016, 3:55 am

davidelewis, glnc222 wrote:Have any other consumer-grade robot vacuums used sonar before?
I wonder whether it [sonar] offers any real advantages.

The Electrolux Trilobite from 2002ish is probably the earliest example that uses (used) Ultrasonics instead of IR. Its party trick was to watch it navigate around an empty wine glass placed on a floor. No other robot could do that without knocking it over. It "sees" glass (and black) as it's sensing obstacles with reflected sound not light. It has different advantages.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby davidelewis » September 15th, 2016, 1:52 pm

Thanks for the replies about other vacuum robots that use sonar. My Neato XV's eat kids socks fairly regularly - so I would hope that sonar may restrict the robot's "diet". :wink:

Yet another YouTube video in Russian putting the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum through its' paces: https://youtu.be/w87dtftUCMc. (To view English subtitles, turn auto-generated Russian subtitles and then choose auto-translate.) It seems to do a good job cleaning up and there seems to be significant airflow shown by the drapes moving around. The voice prompts (albeit in Chinese) are a nice feature.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby glnc222 » September 15th, 2016, 2:30 pm

Narrow center intake inside the wheels. Depends on side brushes. Not best for carpet especially against walls where side brushes are ineffective.

XiaomiBottom.jpg
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby davidelewis » September 15th, 2016, 3:30 pm

glnc222 wrote:Not best for carpet especially against walls where side brushes are ineffective.


Good point. I much prefer the approach the Neato uses with a wide front-mounted brush. On the other hand, I only have area rugs and hardwood (or lino) flooring, so the narrower brush on the Xiaomi Mi may not be so much of an issue for me. The videos show that although the vacuum moves faster that a Neato but also overlaps more with each pass. It probably takes an equivalent amount of time to clean the floor. Where do I sign up to beta test the North American model?!
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby krimore » September 18th, 2016, 12:48 am

I just bought one of these from GearBest paid $369.99 + $23 for shipping. I'll post a review of it when I receive it. It'll be a good replacement for my dying Roomba 650.
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby davidelewis » September 18th, 2016, 1:02 am

Fantastic! I saw that deal too. ;-)

I'd be curious whether the plug is US style (type A/B) or some other style. I gather that the instruction booklet is Chinese-only, so I'd also be curious if the voice prompts are available in other languages. I'm looking forward to your review ...
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby Wing Nut » September 18th, 2016, 4:33 am

davidelewis wrote:I'm looking forward to your review ...

So do I :thumbup:
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Re: Mi Robot vacuum

Postby krimore » September 18th, 2016, 3:52 pm

davidelewis wrote:Fantastic! I saw that deal too. ;-)

I'd be curious whether the plug is US style (type A/B) or some other style. I gather that the instruction booklet is Chinese-only, so I'd also be curious if the voice prompts are available in other languages. I'm looking forward to your review ...


I e-mailed their customer service before pulling the trigger and was told the plug is a 100v-240v plug that is 2 prong and will work in the US without having to use an adapter, of course the e-mail isn't as clear as what i'm writing in this post. :lol: :lol:
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