Great Britain

Robot vacuums go out of control after software update

A software update has sent Roomba robot vacuums out of control.

Owners report their vacuums are behaving as if they are “drunk”, bumping into furniture, losing their sense of direction and failing to find their way home. Since the vacuums must return to their charging docks to stay powered up, the problems can mean that the vacuums stop actually vacuuming.

The problems affect iRobot’s i7 and s9 Roomba robot vacuums, according to multiple reports on Reddit and Twitter. A spokesperson for iRobot, which makes the Roomba vacuums, said that the problems will be fixed with another software update, but that it might take “several weeks”, in a statement to The Verge.

Ordinarily, Roombas are largely autonomous: they map out the room or rooms they are meant to vacuum around, and regularly leave their charging dock to do so, before making their journey back to get ready for the next round.

But the new update means that they are having trouble doing any of those jobs. Users report that they spin around in circles, slam into furniture, drive off the dock at unusual angles and vacuuming in strange patterns.

At their worst, the vacuums get stuck in the middle of the room, leaving them without charge and unable to perform their main task.

Like many smart home devices, the Roombas update themselves automatically, meaning that users might not be aware their robot vacuum has downloaded the problem software.

iRobot appears to be automatically rolling back the software that seems to be responsible. Users who have the 3.12.8 version of the firmware are those reporting the navigation issues, though some suggested on Reddit that even turning back that software update does not necessarily fix their problems.

“We’ve worked with impacted customers to roll their robot’s software back, and we are also implementing an update to ensure any similar issues are avoided moving forward,” iRobot told USA Today.

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