Toshiba's New Robot Cleaner Comes With 27 Sensors

Aug 24, 2014
Mami Akasaka, Nikkei Technology Online
The "Torneo Robo" robot cleaner
The "Torneo Robo" robot cleaner
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]
The robot collecting dust with its "side arm brushes" with long bristles
The robot collecting dust with its "side arm brushes" with long bristles
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]
The charging dock for the "VC-RCX1" and "VC-RVD1" is equipped with the "dust station."
The charging dock for the "VC-RCX1" and "VC-RVD1" is equipped with the "dust station."
[ If it clicks, the expanded picture will open ]

Toshiba Lifestyle Products & Services Corp will start to release three models of the "Torneo Robo" robot cleaner equipped with 27 sensors including infrared and ultrasound sensors in late September 2014.

It accurately detects the locations of obstacles, walls, etc in a room and cleans the room by selecting from 70 or more behavioral patterns to reduce the amount of dust left unremoved.

The ultrasound sensor is used to detect obstacles, walls and furniture located in front of the robot while the infrared sensors enable to detect glass objects and blackish furniture and walls, which often cannot be detected by infrared sensors. Also, with the infrared sensors on the sides of the robot, it keeps an almost constant distance (2cm or less) from a wall and removes dust near the wall.

Moreover, by using sensors, the robot cleaner avoids a height difference of 7cm or more (to avoid a fall) and estimates its travel distance.

This time, Toshiba Lifestyle Products & Services increased the length of the brush bristles attached to the right and left sides of the cleaner by 24mm, compared with its previous product, so that more dust near a wall, in a corner and around furniture can be collected. And the company installed the shafts of the brushes near the bottom and periphery of the robot so that the brushes reach to walls.

At each corner of the room, where dust tends to accumulate, the robot stops for about three seconds and, then, moves from side to side to intensively clean the spot. The brushes, which are usually protruding from the sides, are pulled into the body when they hit an obstacle.

(Continue to the next page)

The rotary brushes move up and down in accordance with the height of the floor. When they hit a bump such as of a carpet, doorsill and controller of an electric carpet, they are pulled into the body so that they do not catch on it. The height difference between the bottom of the robot and the floor is about 15mm, and the robot can go over a 20mm-high bump.

The robot comes with the same bristle brushes as canister vacuum cleaners. The rotation speed of the fan motor for collecting dust is 12,500 revolutions per minute, which realizes a strong suction power, Toshiba Lifestyle Products & Services said.

Two of the three models, "VC-RCX1" and "VC-RVD1," come with a charging dock that automatically vacuums dust collected by the robot and stores it in its own dust box every time when the robot is charged on the dock. As a result, the suction power of the robot is not weakened by the dust accumulating in it. The dust box needs to be emptied about once a month.

The VC-RCX1 has a built-in camera and wireless communication capability. When the user sends an instruction to the robot with a smartphone (even when the user is away from home), it moves to a spot preset by the user (where a "photo pointer" has been placed), takes a picture and sends it to the phone so that the user can check the conditions of the room. By purchasing separately-sold photo pointers (manufacturer's suggested retail price: ¥4,700), it becomes possible to take pictures from up to three spots).

The manufacturer's suggested retail prices of the VC-RCX1, VC-RVD1 and "VC-RV1" are about ¥120,000 (approx US$1,155), 90,000 and 75,000, respectively. Toshiba Lifestyle Products & Services aims to sell 6,000 units of the robot per month.