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It’s perhaps not the way iRobot would choose to describe its business model, but coming from space race roots and military manoeuvres – it originally made Darpa's squidgy squeezy soft warbot – to end up making megabucks cleaning household floors does suggest the company knows how to appeal to the consumer market.

iRobot Scooba 450 and Roomba 880

iRobot revamp: Scooba 450 (left) and Roomba 880 (right)

As always, there’s room for progress and today the company launched revamped versions of its Roomba vacuum cleaner and Scooba floor scrubbing robots.

At first glance, the Roomba 880 and Scooba 450 that iRobot CEO Colin Angle gave El Reg a sneak preview of appeared pretty much the same as previous models. However, there are significant changes in just about every respect but you’ll have to flip them over and take them apart to see where all the work has been done.

iRobot Roomba 880 AeroForce Extractors

Suck on this: iRobot Roomba 880 AeroForce Extractors

With the new Roomba 800 series, iRobot has addressed the age-old problems with using a rotating bristle brush to feed the vacuum cleaner with debris from the floor. Typically, brushes end up with hair and threads wrapped around them, which is bothersome to say the least. That aside, sucking air through a brush isn’t a very efficient use of the vacuum system either as it’s a substantial area to maintain suction over and requires a fair amount of power.

If you’re in the business of making battery robot cleaners, then power consumption is an issue. The rethink in the new Roomba is to dispense with 100 years of bristle brushing and to use a pair of rubberised rollers with a pattern of small blades or fins across each cylinder to scoop up debris.

iRobot Roomba 880 components

Roll with it: iRobot Roomba 880 components include a single larger filter in the dustbin – click for a large image

As part of the new AeroForce Performance Cleaning System, iRobot claims the design of these these rollers, called AeroForce Extractors, delivers a smaller, yet higher velocity suction area that enables the Roomba to work more quietly and more efficiently. There’s also the added bonus that hair doesn’t get trapped so easily on the AeroForce Extractors either.

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