We've got a new personality here at our house, a conscientious worker who's really earning her keep: Our robot vacuum cleaner, Ruby.
Our old vacuum gave up the ghost in a puff of foul-smelling smoke recently, and we used the opportunity to purchase, as a replacement, a Roomba. So far, we love it.
The Roomba sits quietly most of the day, recharging in a docking station plugged into the wall. Whenever we tell it to, it takes off across the floor, vacuuming its ass off.
It's got an electric eye so it senses impending objects and slows down before it bumps against them, and it can get itself into and out of some tight spots, including the forest of chair legs under our dining table.
Ruby (apparently it's Roomba tradition to give them names) vacuums the entire house, under beds, the works. Much more thoroughly that I, personally, ever vacuumed when I was in charge of pushing the machine around the house. It's probably not powerful enough to handle a daily diet of the kind of messes left by kids and pets, but it seems perfect for our empty nest.
You'd think a robot vacuum would be a real time-saver, but I spend a LOT of time following Ruby around the house, marveling at the way she crawls along the baseboards or how she senses her battery getting low and finds her way back to the docking station all by herself.
I talk to Ruby the way you would speak to a pet or a small child. "Are you stuck there, Ruby? Getting tired?" Once in a while, she talks back, including a really cute "uh-oh" tone when there's a problem.
A couple of drawbacks: Ruby doesn't like the area rugs in the bathroom. Their edges roll up and get snagged. Uh-oh. Also, the Roomba works on an odd pattern that, while covering the entire area eventually, does leave weird tracks in the carpet, as if the vacuuming had been done by an extremely conscientious crazy person.
Now if I can find a robot to do the dusting . . .