If robots really are going to rise up and overthrow the human race, then it’s only fair that they muck in and do some jobs around the house beforehand – you might be surprised at just how many handy robotic household gadgets there are to choose from in 2016.
From getting the floors looking spick and span (even while you’re out at work) to making sure you get out of bed at the right time, here are a few ideas for getting together your very own household robot army – one that won’t suddenly decide to go rogue any time soon.
Rather than heading indoors straight away let’s begin out in the garden with the Robomow – your friendly grass-cutting robot that makes short work of your lawn once you’ve set it off on its path. You can sit back, chilled drink and newspaper in hand, while the Robomow trims your garden to size. You can even control it using a smartphone app.
There are a variety of Robomow models and configurations to pick from, but even at the cheapest end of the scale you’re not going to get any change from £1,000. Still, these are powerful cutting machines, capable of handling different, linked sections of garden and slight slopes, and able to automatically return to base when rain is detected in the air.
£999.99 | Buy Robomow
2. Winbot 930
Also concerned with the outward appearance of your home, the Winbot 930 takes on one of the most tedious household jobs: window cleaning. Simply affix this robot or another model from the Winbot line to the grimy panes of glass protecting your home interiors against the weather and it will merrily chug away without ever asking you to make a brew.
The Winbots aren’t high-strength cleaners, so you can’t expect them to swipe away many years’ worth of collected dirt, but as long as you keep them running on a regular basis you should find they go a long way to keeping your windows sparkling. It comes with a bunch of cleaning supplies and accessories, including a remote control for extra convenience.
£269 | Buy Winbot 930
3. Dyson 360 Eye
The earliest robot vacuum cleaners were slow, stupid and ineffective, but the latest batch of bots have come on leaps and bounds from those rather humble beginnings. In that spirit we present the Dyson 360 Eye, so called because of the 360-degree camera on its lid, allowing it to work its way around your living room or study without any input from you.
While we have some reservations about the cleaner, you can’t doubt its ability to pick up dust and grime, thanks partly to its height (so it won’t fit under some of your low-lying furniture). The robot automatically returns to its charging station when it needs to as well, so you can head out safe in the knowledge your floor will be clean when you return.
£799.99 | Buy Dyson 360 Eye
4. iRobot Roomba 980
Dyson is a relative beginner in the robot vacuum space compared with iRobot, which has been churning out Roombas in various guises for more than 10 years now. The 980 model is the latest and greatest robot vacuum cleaner that the company has put its name to, and there’s no doubt it gives the Dyson some stiff competition (and cheekily matches its price).
Neither this nor the Dyson 360 Eye are the cheapest robot vacuum cleaners you can find on sale but this is the first Roomba to offer wireless connectivity and mobile app support. It’s also the most comprehensive model in terms of cleaning that iRobot has ever put out, and includes smarter location tracking and obstacle avoidance measures as well.
£799.99 | Buy iRobot Roomba 980
5. iRobot Braava 390t
iRobot doesn’t stop at automated vacuum cleaners though, and has also been pushing intelligent mops as well, like the Braava 390t – they work in a similar way to the vacuum cleaners, only with a cloth (which can be dampened if necessary). This time navigation duties are handled by a special indoor GPS box that makes a map of a room’s layout.
What you can’t do is schedule cleaning remotely and leave the Braava 390t to work through its chores while you’re out of the house, as you can with some of the vacuum cleaners. Still, the technology will get there eventually, and in the meantime this is another excellent way of getting your non-carpeted floors cleaned up effectively.
£319.99 | Buy iRobot Braava 390t
For many of us, getting out of bed at the right time without continually hitting the snooze button is one of the biggest challenges of the day, and the toy-like Clocky is a wheeled robot designed to tackle that perennial problem – if you don’t get up when you’re supposed to, Clocky zooms off and won’t silence its alarm until you’re able to catch it.
It’s a simple but effective way of ensuring that you’re up and about it plenty of time to get to work (or school), and you can pick up Clocky in a choice of eight fetching colours. It can handle drops of up to three feet, so it can go on a table or on the floor, and if you want to cheat a little then you can allow yourself one hit of the snooze button before it moves.
£32 | Buy Clocky
7. Asus Zenbo
We’ve mentioned the Zenbo before and it’s a taste of what’s to come for these household robots – lots of features and lots more tricks to come as they get smarter over time. Like the Zenbo, these stay-at-home devices will all connect to the internet, giving them the ability to handle everything from Wikipedia searches to video calls with the family.
You can’t actually buy the Asus Zenbo at the moment – it’s available for developers though, who are busy working on apps and functions for the friendly looking robot. It can respond to questions, play music and video, recognise faces, act as a security alarm, keep the kids entertained, order stuff from the web, show your calendar and much more.
$599 (about £460) | See Asus Zenbo