Like many of us, iRobot has a long-standing love-hate relationship with the mop. The first Scooba system became widely available in 2010. Ultimately, however, mopping up and filling a tank with dirty water proved inefficient, and the line was eventually phased out. The new line was ultimately Braava, which arrived as part of its 2012 acquisition of Evolution Robotics.
That system favors a cleaning pad, which ultimately proved less potentially disastrous than a tank system. Despite what the Standells might tell you, citizens of iRobot’s hometown do not, in fact, love that dirty water.
One of the company’s longstanding holy grails is the combination system. Convenience is paramount, combining mopping and vacuuming into a single system. Roughly this time last year, the company announced the Roomba Combo j7+. The system uses a clever mechanical arm to move the pad out of the way, so you don’t accidentally mop the carpet. iRobot expanded the line a couple of weeks back with an improved j7+, along with the Roomba Combo i5+, which lowers the price point $250, down to $549.
Today the firm is announcing yet another SKU. The Roomba j9+ is quite steep, at $899 for the Roomba and $1,399 for Roomba and dock.
“The Roomba Combo j9+ robot vacuum and mop reigns supreme in its class, designed to tackle dirt, pet fur and debris with unmatched precision,” the company writes. “Its 4-Stage Cleaning System and unique Dual Rubber Brushes provide 100% more powerful suction and pressurized scrubbing action. And unlike competing 2-in-1 robot vacuum and mops that barely lift their mop pads, if at all, iRobot’s D.R.I. (Dry Rug Intelligence) means customers can trust that their Roomba Combo j9+ will keep even high-pile rugs clean and dry.”
That last bit is a direct dig at companies like Roborock and Ecovac, which have carved out their own niches undercutting iRobot’s premium pricing.
Ultimately, however, CEO Colin Angle says the software is the thing. “I believe the long-term winner in the robot industry is going to be the company with the best software,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch. “iRobot continues to raise the bar. In 2021, we went all-in and said iRobot will refund your money if it ever hits poop, which no one has done since. We continue to honor that. Earlier this year, we started automatically labeling rooms.”
Both the j7+ and j9+ are getting iRobot OS 7.0. The centerpiece is something the company calls “Dirt Detective.” Angle says, “We maintain a map of your home that’s resilient to disruptions. Because we’re the only robot that actually looks to see if we’re picking up dirt as we clean, we can judge how quickly a room gets dirty. We also know how long it’s been since you last cleaned a particular room, because we have that historical perspective.”
Dirt Detective creates plans and prioritizes rooms based on need. Also on the list is SmartScrub, which really gets in there for a deep clean as needed, with double the scrubbing, per iRobot.
The j9+ goes up for presale starting in Europe today. Canada and the U.S. follow suit tomorrow.