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Home TECH The Roomba j7+ learns to mop with a spectacular swing arm configuration

The Roomba j7+ learns to mop with a spectacular swing arm configuration

iRobot, soon to be owned by Amazon, announces a flagship Roomba with a new feature: It can vacuum and mop simultaneously. Meet the Roomba Combo j7+, a $1,100 combo cleaning robot shipping October 4.

iRobot is not redesigning the j7+ series from scratch to add mopping functionality. In fact, the update almost looks like an update. The new j7 looks like the old j7 with a camera on the front, a large dumpster on the back, and a bottom design that’s almost identical to the old bot. There’s a new dust pan and… is that a rear spoiler?

The functionality of the mop lives in the Upper part (yes, the top) of the j7+, which now has a large rear cutout. The top of this cutout is plastic, and the bottom is the wet mop pad, which is connected to the robot by two side arms. When it comes time to clean up a bit, a dramatic transition occurs, similar to that of Transformers. Two flaps on the side of the Roomba open, revealing that the top cutout of the mop is connected to the robot by a pair of swing arms. The cutout section at the top of the robot stands up and swings down and under the robot in a large 180 degree movement. You are now dragging a wet mop across the floor with minimal changes to the design of the j7+.

It doesn’t look like the j7+ will provide iRobot’s top-of-the-line mopping experience, which will still belong to the Jet Braava M6. iRobot’s dedicated mopping robot beats the j7+ because about 50 percent of the Braava’s body is a water tank and it has a front-facing water spray. The j7+ has a redesigned dust cup that is now a combined dust and water tank. The dust area is smaller to make way for a 210ml water tank. That means a lot less dusting capacity, but that doesn’t really matter, since Roomba will only visit the base station to clean itself whenever the bin is full.

The raised mop in action. When it’s time to go over a carpet, the mop swings to the top of the robot, so it never wets the carpet.

I robot

The state of the art in combined cleaning robots is probably that of $1,400 Roborock S7 Max V Ultra or $1,550 Ecovac Deebot X1 Omniwhich have a garbage can other water tank on the robot, along with a giant base station that empties the robot of dust, fills it with fresh water, and then washes the mop and stores the sewage in a separate tank. iRobot has a long way to go to catch up with that.

The swing arm setup looks great, but you have to wonder about its longevity. These robots take a lot of abuse bumping into everything and constantly dealing with dust, it’s just the nature of the job. That big movement requires a tone of small moving parts and tiny pivot points. Kind of like a Roborock, by contrast, it just has a mop permanently attached to the bottom of the robot, and the mop setup has a variable-height suspension, so it can be raised slightly to avoid hitting the carpet. That works for thinner rugs, but if you have a significant pile, the robot can sink too deep and wet the rug. iRobot says the swing arm setup is designed to prevent that.

iRobot’s press release casts some shade over the competition, saying, “Other 2-in-1 mops lift only a few millimeters, if any, and can leave wet messes on many carpets or rugs as a result.” Roomba Combo j7+ is the only 2-in-1 with a mop that rises to the top of the robot, completely away from carpets and rugs, “unwanted wet messes.”

The new combined bot is ready to book now.

Ars Technica may be compensated for sales of links in this publication through affiliate programs.

Listing Image by Roomba

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