Evolution Robotics eschews the label 'robot' but leverages its core robotics technologies to produce Mint, a simple, capable floor cleaner.
By Mikell Taylor
May 19, 2010
Evolution Robotics Inc. began life as a supplier of autonomous robot platforms that proved popular with researchers, but failed in the consumer market for personal robots. Later, the company developed navigation and vision technology that could be integrated entirely into, or used with, robots and other technologies, such as its NorthStar navigation system and computer vision software. At the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Evolution entered a completely new market and business by introducing the Mint robotic floor cleaner.
The Mint joins an already crowded floor-cleaning space, but differs in several key areas. Rather than integrate active vacuum or sweeping capability, the Mint has an attachment for Procter & Gamble’s popular Swiffer and Swiffer Wet cleaning cloths. In addition, it focuses only on hard floors, not on carpeted areas, and it benefits from the Evolution Robotics NorthStar navigation system, an “indoor GPS” reference beacon that permits the robot to clean a room efficiently by localizing itself.
Mint’s most obvious competitor is iRobot, whose Roomba and Scooba robots fulfill both carpet cleaning and floor mopping needs. Neato Robotics, which in 2009 introduced its XV-11 vacuuming robot with laser-based simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) navigation, is another key player. Comparable models of the Roomba range from $299 to $449; the XV-11 is priced at $399; and the Mint retails at $249.
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