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This flying robot-vacuum is not an altogether terrible idea

Crackpot inventor Peter Sripol appears to have a penchant for attaching wings to anything from power drills to gaming chairs before sending them skyward. Why? Because … well, just because.

But now the popular YouTuber has built something that’s at least half-sensible: A robot vacuum that flies.

Think about it. Since the very first robovac came noisily into view around two decades ago, the autonomous cleaner has been confined to the floor where it’s been set down. If you live in a multilevel apartment or house and want the upstairs done, you have to carry the machine there, or buy another one.

A gap in the market

Spotting a gap in the market, Sripol and his buddies set about trying to build what you might call a “robovac drone.” One that can clean downstairs before flying upstairs to complete the job.

Using a cheap and light machine bought on Amazon, Sripol’s team added three ducted fans for flight, and, following a number of other modifications, managed to launch the robovac into the air for its inaugural flight. And it didn’t crash.

Next, he wanted to get feedback from regular folks, so he took it to a house party. This is when the chunk of flying machinery started to look a little dangerous, with the hefty device buzzing around inside a crowded room.

Sripol asks one guest how much he would be prepared to pay “for this innovative home-cleaning technology that’s also an aerial vehicle.” It’s not clear if the guest had had one too many, but he responds with “$500.”

Drawbacks

Drawbacks with the flying robovac? Well, it’s not autonomous, meaning that someone has to use a controller to fly it between floors. Hmm, that’s actually a really big drawback when you think about it. Secondly, the downdraft caused by the spinning propellers as it comes in to land has the effect of blowing nearby dust and dirt — and anything else light and loose — all over the place, creating an even bigger mess.

“Peter Sripol can make absolutely anything fly,” one of his friends proclaims at the end of the video. “He’s a genius in everything that has to do with flight, and he’s an idiot in everything else.”

So let’s wait and see if iRobot contacts the YouTuber about trying to commercialize this fascinating contraption. You never know, it could be the holiday gift of 2020. OK, perhaps not.

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