'Drunk' robot vacuums spark complaints from owners

By Zoe Kleinman
Technology reporter

image copyrightiRobot

Owners of Roomba robot vacuums have complained the devices appear "drunk" following a software update.

Problems include the machines "spinning around", constantly recharging or not charging at all, and moving in strange directions.

The devices' maker iRobot has acknowledged its update had caused problems for "a limited number" of its i7 and s9 Roomba models.

However, it added a fix would take "several weeks" to roll out worldwide.

In the meantime, the firm is asking those affected to share the serial numbers of their devices so it can remove the most recent update.

Brief battery top-ups

Disgruntled customers have posted dozens of complaints on social media over the last few days.

"My Roomba is acting like a drunk on a two-day binge," wrote one Twitter user.

"My i7+ keeps wandering off and is unable to return home," said another.

A poster on Reddit listed a number of problems including their Roomba:

  • spinning around and bumping into furniture
  • moving in "weird patterns"
  • travelling diagonally away from its charging dock
  • recharging five times while cleaning one room but only for a total of eight minutes

"We've worked with impacted customers to roll their robot's software back," iRobot said in a statement.

"We are also implementing an update to ensure any similar issues are avoided moving forward. This update is being deployed to all customers over the course of the next several weeks."

The i7 Roomba price starts at £599 on iRobot's UK store - the older s9 is currently unavailable in the UK, but costs $1,000 (£718) in the US.

Ken Munro is a cyber-security expert who specialises in security around the internet-of-things - anything which is connected to the internet.

"Updates usually add new features or fix security bugs in smart products," he said.

"They don't always go to plan though, sometimes introducing new bugs.

"It's worth remembering that you're relying on the manufacturer to continue to support your smart thing; are smart devices ever truly 'yours'?"

He added, however, that it is generally advisable to accept software updates.

Related Topics

More on this story