There is nothing particularly endearing about the appearance of the robot vacuum cleaner: the ones I tested mostly looked like giant ice-hockey pucks. Yet there is something about their behaviour that tugs at the heartstrings.
“Our customers grow very attached to their robots,” the publicist for Neato, one of the manufacturers, told me. “When they send them in for repair, they want to make sure they get the same one back.”
Robot vacuum cleaners live on a base, to which they return when they need to recharge or their mission is completed, and from which they venture out, criss-crossing the room, hoovering up detritus as they go.
In order that I could fairly test them against each other, I arranged my living room into a course that was challenging without being insurmountable. The floor was then strewn with flour and those glittery confetti smiley faces.
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