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Why use one clunky Roomba when you can enlist an army of tiny cleaning drones?

The Roomba is great for many reasons: It picks up dirt and dust when you’re too lazy to sweep them up yourself, it’s entertaining to watch as the poor thing bumps around and figures out a corner, and you can put a cat on it and guarantee some Internet fame. But there are times when a Roomba just isn’t right for your apartment. Perhaps it’s too large to fit under your couch, or it takes too long to cover a large area of space. One concept from the Electrolux Design Lab mimics bee’s honey collection aims to apply the same logic – for all the grimes in your house.

Mab cleaning robot conceptThe Mab system, designed by 23-year-old Adrian Perez Zapata, starts out with a sphere device that rolls into the room when it is programmed for a cleaning session. It will scan the room to recognize the space, and determine which mode it needs to clean in: Fast, Normal, or Exhaustive. When it is ready, 908 tiny robots will fly out of the sphere core, picking up the water and cleaning solution mixture you’ll have preloaded inside the machine out to various parts of the room. After they drop the cleaning fluid on the dirt and pick up the particles, the drones will return to the core sphere. If an area is extra dirty, the flying robots will pick up more solution and go over the space again. This process repeats until the drones determine that the room is sufficiently cleaned, and they will go back into the preassigned slots to rest up.

Because there are multiple drones hitting various parts of the room at the same time, Zapata says this allows for more efficient cleaning. Unlike the one man show of a Roomba, the army of drones work together to get the job done faster.

Mab mini robotAccording to the design, the little drones are also equipped with solar panels on their wings so it is constantly harvesting energy. This means less recharge, especially if it’s cleaning during the day while the user is out at work. The concept also notes that the Mab will have wireless connectivity, so it can report the dirt level back to the user each time it finishes cleaning, allowing home owners to see how much cleaner (or dirtier) their house is getting over time.

Of course, a wireless app connectivity means letting users schedule cleaning remotely, in case one needs an extra refresh before guests make an unexpected visit. Users can also program directly on the Mab itself, if they promise to get out of the way before the cleaning cycle begins.

Mab concept interface

It’s interesting to see the use of drones outside of the surveillance and military industry, though one certainly wouldn’t want to be home while Mab is at work. Could you imagine walking into a room full of flying mini robots attacking the dirt around your house? Or walking into the little drones, crushing their poor solar-paneled wings? If the concept ever becomes reality, we hope all 908 drones truly are smart enough to make their way back to the sphere core, because there’s nothing more dangerous for your kids than a missing ‘bot the size of a Lego brick filled with cleaning solution.

To see more details of the Mab’s design development, visit its webpage on the Electrolux Design Lab.