Electrolux, the first company to bring a robotic vacuum cleaner to market in the Trilobite, has released the first second generation vacuum, the Trilobite 2.0.
The new Trilobite 2.0 can be programmed to clean at a particular time, has an active infra-red stair sensor and improved navigation algorithm.
The prototype of the Electrolux Trilobite was first presented in 1997 on the BBC (UK) television programme Tomorrow's World. November 2001 saw the introduction of the finished product, the world's first automatic or "˜robotic' vacuum cleaner. As demand for the Trilobite continues to grow, it will soon be available all around the world.
Trilobite 2.0 is the latest version of the automatic vacuum cleaner. Electrolux has made over 200 modifications to its product, though some are more visible than others.
There are five major changes to the new version:
The Trilobite 2.0 can be programmed, not unlike a VCR. You can set the vacuum cleaner to do the cleaning at, say, 10 am every day while you are at work, go out for a walk or do anything else you like.
The Trilobite is equipped with an active infra-red sensor, which detects approaching changes in floor level, including stairs. The vacuum cleaner then changes direction and continues cleaning. Magnetic strips are only needed if you wish to block off certain rooms, and can be hidden under rugs of a maximum thickness of 15 mm.
The Trilobite 2.0 comes with an improved navigation algorithm, which involves detecting the amount of obstacles (e.g. furniture) present in a room and adjusting the cleaning time to it.
The display now indicates how long the vacuum cleaner can keep operating before recharging and, during recharging, how much longer it will take to be fully charged.
The Trilobite 2.0 navigates by using ultrasound, just like a bat. The ultrasound is emitted by a sonar, which vibrates at 60,000 Hz and is coated with a thin gold plating for optimum performance. Eight microphones capture the ultrasound that bounces off walls, furniture and other obstacles, allowing the Trilobite 2.0 to "see" them and navigate around them. When its power is running low, the vacuum cleaner will automatically find its way back to the charger and dock for recharging.
The Trilobite 2.0 has three cleaning programmes:
Normal: The Trilobite starts by vacuuming along the walls of a room before going on to clean the open floor space. The wall phase is used to calculate how long it will take to clean the whole room.
Quick: Skips the initial wall phase. This programme is quicker but less thorough than the Normal programme.
Spot: Vacuums an area of roughly 1 m², twice. Can be used for instance to clean up a spillage.
The trilobite was an arthropod that lived between 250 and 560 million years ago. The hard-backed creature is perhaps best known for the fossils found today in stone walls, stairs and floors. This animal has lent its shape and name to Electrolux's vacuum cleaner.