iRobot Braava Uses Northstar Technology to Clean Your Floors

iRobot Braava Uses Northstar Technology to Clean Your Floors

If you love your automatic robot vacuum cleaner but wished that it could also mop your floors when it was done, you’re sure to be thrilled by the release of the iRobot Braava Floor Mopping Robot. The Braava stems from iRobot’s $74 million acquisition, in 2012, of Evolution Robotics, the company that created the four-sided Mint robotic floor mop that cleaned surfaces using disposable cloths. iRobot acquired not just the Mint (now upgraded, rebranded and rereleased as the Braava), but also Evolution’s experience in navigation, artificial intelligence and sensing.

In particular, iRobot has been able to make use of Evolution’s NorthStar Navigation System technology, as seen in the Braava and similar to the technology employed in the Neato Domestic Robot Vacuum Cleaner. This infrared localisation system works like an indoor GPS to help robot machines know where they are in a space, where they’ve been and where they need to go, using mapping and signal projection.

north star navigation

With the incorporation of the NorthStar navigation system, Braava can build a map of the cleaning area as it goes. The robot vacuum cleaner can map walls, obstacles and drop-offs as they’re encountered, so that all parts of a room are effectively catered to. When the machine has finished cleaning, it returns to where it started and automatically powers down.

Braava provides a fairly hassle-free cleaning option for any home or office with hard-surface floors. There are two unit options to choose from: the entry-level 320 unit or the higher-end 380t. The new robot technology incorporates an intelligent cleaning algorithm and improved hardware from the previous Mint design, and uses dry or damp cloths to mop up dust, dirt, grime, hair and smudges. The machine is “whisper-quiet” so it doesn’t interrupt conversations, work, sleep or TV viewing; and can be fitted with either ordinary disposable cleaning cloths or with Braava’s specially-designed microfibre cloths which can be reused hundreds of times.

Owners of the Braava system have two cleaning modes to choose from: Sweep or Mop. In the Sweep setting, Braava moves in straight lines and uses a dry mop to pick up dust, hair, dirt and the like; while in the Mop mode it uses damp cleaning cloths in a back-and-forth mopping action to lift surface dirt and grime off hard-surface floors.

vacuum northstar navigation jpg
Image: robvacstore.com

Busy residents or business owners will love the easy use of the machine, as well as the fast charging time – the higher-end 380t model, for example, charges in only two hours using its Turbo Charge Cradle. (Do keep in mind that unlike the Roomba mop product, the Braava does not have features like auto-recharging and scheduled cleanings, and it also is probably not the best choice if you’re after heavy-duty mopping power).

iRobot Brava Specs

  • The Braava uses the NorthStar Navigation System to keep track of where it has been, where it needs to go, and obstacles that might get in the way.
  • To clean, Braava works with an accessory called the NorthStar Navigation Cube that needs to be placed somewhere in the room users want to clean. The cube syncs wirelessly with the Braava unit. A Navigation Cube is needed for each room that needs to be cleaned (extras sold separately).
  • The Braava 380t unit can cover just over 32.5 square metres (350 square feet) when damp mopping, or up to just under 93 square metres (1,000 square feet) when dry mopping in a single cleaning cycle. It can also cover close to 186 square metres (2,000 square feet) when being used in conjunction with a number of NorthStar Navigation Cubes.
  • In comparison, the entry-level Braava 320 unit can cover just over 23 square metres (250 square feet) when damp mopping, or just over 74 square metres (800 square feet) when dry mopping.
  • The rechargeable battery used in the 380t unit is 2,000 mAh NiMH while in the 320 unit it is 1,500 mAh NiMH.
  • Dry mopping run time in the 380t unit is 4 hours, and 3 hours in the 320 unit. Run time when damp mopping is 2.5 hours for the 380t unit and 2 hours for the 320 unit.
  • iRobot’s Braava system can be purchased online at international sites like www.Amazon.com or via Australian-based websites such as OzRobots (AUD$369.00) or Aurobo at just under AUD $460.