iRobot Teams with Amazon to expand Alexa Controls for Roomba, Braava lines

Amazon and iRobot aim to expand voice control interactivity with new spot-cleaning, scheduling, and alert support for robot vacuums and mops.

iRobot and Amazon jointly announced several new interactions between the iRobot Genius Home Intelligence and Alexa platforms that will let users control their Roomba and Braava units in new ways. The expansion focuses on a quartet of additions designed to provide more granular control of when and where the robot vacuums and mops will attempt to clean, while also offering new two-way communications dialogues between the user and their iRobot device.

First up, iRobot has added a new type of command that allows Roombas to target a specific area for cleaning. This can include any designated object within a mapped room, such as a couch, countertop, or table. The company suggests this will be particularly useful for high-traffic zones that may get messy far quicker than their surrounding areas.

For whole-room jobs, Alexa can now also create regular cleaning schedules using commands like "Alexa, tell Roomba to clean the living room every weekday at 1 pm," or "Alexa, tell Braava to mop the bathroom every Saturday morning." 

Should a robot run into any mishaps during its assigned task, the expanded interactivity in this update now supports user alerts broadcast via Alexa-enabled devices, including notifications of a mop or vacuum needing human intervention and notices for the completion of assigned cleaning jobs. iRobot Genius can now also ask for clarifications about a requested cleaning task to ensure it will be executed correctly on its first try.

Lastly, iRobot's platform can now access Alexa's "Hunch" feature to enable it to choose the most convenient cleaning time for its owner. The companies suggest that this can be leveraged to automatically set cleaning cycle timing for when the family is away at work or school to avoid disturbances.

Looking forward, the duo revealed they also plan to add a new "Do Not Disturb" feature that will create time blocks during which Roomba vacuums or Braava mops will request confirmation from users before it begins a cleaning cycle, even if that cycle has specifically been requested. No timeframe was mentioned for when this mode might be available.