iRobot’s new i7+ Roomba empties itself so you don’t have to

By far, the worst thing about vacuuming is having to empty the collected debris from the dust bin.

Even if you do manage to pop the chamber open without kicking up a dust cloud, making sure it gets into the garbage can is a challenge in itself. While the blob of dirt and hair rolls out of the bin, there’s also a good chance you’re going to get some of it on the floor, your clothes, or yours hands. All the while, you’re holding your breath so you don’t accidentally inhale a nasty dust cloud.

The company iRobot, maker of Roomba vacuums, has drummed up a solution that means you won’t have to touch or inhale that dusty ball of dirt ever again. The new i7+ Roomba, available September 12 on irobot.com, features a cleaning base station that sucks the dirt out of the vacuum and puts it into a bag, making the cleaning process almost completely hands-free.

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“[We are] addressing a long-standing customer call by giving Roomba the ability to empty its own bin after each cleaning,” said Christian Cerda, COO of iRobot. “This enhances the customer experience by eliminating the dusty and dirty mess often associated with emptying vacuum canisters.”

Think of the cleaning base as a vacuum for your vacuum. Once the vacuum connects to the station (which looks a little like a short, narrow water tower), the debris is sucked from the vacuum through a long tube. It goes into a bag located inside the base station, which can hold up to 30 full bins. An indicator light on the device and in the corresponding app tells you when the base station is full, so you can remove the bag of debris, throw it away, and replace it with a fresh bag. You don’t even have to wash your hands afterward if you don’t want to.

“We really feel like we’ve nailed it on this one,” James Baussmann, North American public relations manager for iRobot, told Digital Trends. “The user won’t have to interact with the vacuum for weeks or months at a time.”

In addition to the cleaning station, iRobot has added other functions to the i7+. A smart mapping feature means that the device can store up to 10 floor plans and room names in order to customize cleaning jobs. That means you can carry the device upstairs or even take it to another home to clean without losing saved mapping data from your existing floor plan.

“Once you’ve done two or three jobs, you’ll get a progress report as it’s working toward a smart map,” Sarah Wang, product manager for iRobot, told Digital Trends.

The device integrates with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so you can just say “Alexa, ask Roomba to clean my kitchen,” and off it goes.

The i7+ will cost quite a bit, with the vacuum and Clean Base coming in at $949. You can buy the vacuum without the Clean Base for $699, but if you choose to buy the Clean Base later, it’ll cost you $299, so you’ll save $50 by buying both together. At this time, the Clean Base station only works with the i7 model and none of the other Roombas, Baussmann said.

The i7+ is one of two vacuums iRobot is launching. The Roomba e5 robot vacuum, also available September 12, starts at $449, and provides a lower-cost option for those who don’t want to drop almost $1,000 on a robovac. The Roomba features a three-stage cleaning system and dual rubber brushes for different surfaces. It also has an app and features integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

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