Ecovacs Robotics offers a range of advanced AI-driven robot vacuum cleaners, and my house is currently being cleaned by the DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI. This robot uses Artificial Intelligence to identify obstacles and avoid them, increasing the chances of a successful clean. This addresses one of the biggest issues of living with a robot vacuum.
After using many of these autonomous cleaning robots, I’ve often come home to it being stuck on a sock, or it trapped in the bathroom with a flat battery, after clearly closing the door on itself.
Thanks to a new level of laser-based mapping and navigation, the way the robot routes its way around your home to clean, is as efficient and effective as the cleaning performance. What’s great about this robot, is the on-board camera is available to you through the mobile app. Obviously having a robot with a camera and microphone roaming your home could create some security concerns, so Ecovacs enable you to restrict the feed with a pin.
Not only can you see the video feed from your mobile, you can also control the robot using an on-screen overlay to go forward, back, and rotate left and right. This opens up potential applications far greater than what’s typically available from a vacuum. You could, for example, use the robot to patrol your home when you’re away and start to look at this as a security device, which also happens to clean.
Another challenge for some robots is battery life, with many needing to return to charge mid-clean when operating in larger homes. Thanks to a massive 3 hours of battery life, this will have no problems cleaning the whole home. While it lacks the dust extraction bin integrated into the charging bay of the premium models, this is a more affordable offering that lands at an appealing price point.
By way of technology, the DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI features ECOVACS’ optimised AIVITM (Artificial Intelligence and Visual Interpretation) Technology, TrueMapping Mapping and Navigation Technology, and advanced mopping and vacuuming performance, for a thorough and intelligent cleaning experience.
The combination of these features results in a robot that can map the home environment much faster, and with greater precision than current platforms, while detecting and avoiding common household objects in the process.
Curves in all the right places
The design of this robot vacuum is a familiar recipe, with a black circular exterior, which in theory allows it to rotate easily, turning to navigate around the environment. On top of the robot, you’ll find a raised section, that contains the technology to scan for objects in the path.
Also hidden in there is a camera that enables you to see navigate the robot using the mobile app. This serves a couple of purposes, the first is to navigate the robot remotely, moving it to a new room, as well as navigating away from obstacles, should the robot ever get stuck.
There is of course a new opportunity that emerges from having a mobile camera in your home, namely the option to use it as a security camera, one that you could use to check on your place, in the event you’re away on a holiday. It’s also possible to check on pets, potentially even checking if they have adequate food and water. While these may not be reasons to buy this vacuum cleaner, they are nice fringe benefits of owning one.
The cleaning is done via 2 spinning brushes underneath, that do a good job of collecting dirt and dust from your floors. These brushes flick the debris into the storage bin, which is accessible from under the top lid. It’s a nice design idea to hide this away from view, helping avoid having your rubbish slide past your visitor’s feet.
At the rear of the cleaner is a removable water tray for cleaning floors. This is neatly integrated into the rear of the chassis and easy to clip in and out when you need to refill. Mopping is done with intelligence, identifying the surface below the robot is driving over, ensuring that it only deploys water on hard surfaces like tiles.
How does it perform ?
The performance of a robot vacuum cleaner really comes down to this. As you walk around your house, do you see dust, dirt, crumbs on the floor? If you spot any, then the first question you’ll ask is when the robot last ran, if the answer is today and you still spot issues outstanding on the floor, then you’d be disappointed in the performance.
If you’ve only scheduled the robot to run a couple of times a week, then of course you’ve got the ability to increase the frequency of cleaning, to meet your lifestyle.
Personally, I’m really happy with the performance of this vacuum. Not only can it do both hard and soft surfaces, but it can do wet and dry areas. It can also cope with the hurdle of getting up and over the edges of a decent rug, while also having a slim enough profile to fit under entertainment units etc.
When it comes to the smarts to avoid potential obstacles that would typically have competitors stuck, it was pretty rare to see the vacuum back away from something, but I only once had to rescue this robot and that was due to hair that had tangled the wheels.
Stand out features of this device.
There’s a very healthy list of features on offer with the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI. These include:
Sophisticated Obstacle Avoidance
One of the big selling points of this robot is its ability to automatically recognise objects including shoes, charging docks, cables, clothes, and socks to avoid obstacles and reduce the robot’s risk of getting stuck by 60%2 when compared to earlier models.
If you don’t currently own a robot vacuum, then you may not be familiar with the challenges most autonomous vacuum’s have, in successfully navigating your home.
Imagine you set it to clean, head off to work, and 2 minutes into the cycle, it runs over a sock, gets stuck, and stops. That’s annoying and something you can avoid, if you choose the right robot, with smarts to avoid obstacles like this.
Vacuums and Mops Simultaneously
I’ve reviewed vacuums before that had this dual feature, but they required you to manually select the cleaning mode. The T8 AIVI offers 2-in-1 vacuuming and mopping functionality.
To up for this, all you need to do is empty the cleaning bin and fill the tank at the back of the robot, then as it moves across the different surfaces in your home, it automatically detects carpet and avoids mopping. This means your carpets and rugs get cleaned, while your hard surfaces like floorboards and tiles will get vacuumed and mopped.
The extra-large 240mL water tank is very generous and I found it easily accommodates my 4 bedroom home.
Enables Precise and Customised Cleaning
TrueMapping is a technology that uses lasers and advanced dToF (direct time of flight) sensors to map your home. This is said to be as much as 4x faster than standard laser mapping, with the ability to detect a distance 2X further away, and the ability to detect objects down to a millimeter tall.
As the robot scans your house, it builds a virtual floorplan which you get to see in the mobile app. Having a precise map of your home enables it to efficiently route the cleaning path, and prevents missed or repeated spots.
This enables you to select areas to clean, which makes sense, as we often spend more time in common areas like the kitchen or lounge, which would require more cleaning than say a bedroom. This cleaning can be performed on a schedule or on-demand.
There are parts of your home that you may want to exclude from cleaning and the T8 AIVI allows you to identify virtual boundaries to stay away from. These unlimited custom boundaries, ensure you can virtually keep the robot out of your kids room, where it’s likely to run into issues, or away from the top of the staircase.
If you’re home, you could manually deal with this issue by closing a door, but it’s a really nice luxury to be able to enable these simply to create a virtual boundary wherever you are in the world.
Missed Area Notification
It’s common for us to place items in the path of the robot, which would create an obstacle that prevents the robot from cleaning. This could include shoes, cables, boxes etc and where the robot can’t perform its regular duties, it is nice to know you’ll get a notification to explain why.
Once you return home, it’s easy to clear the obstacle and then send the robot to clean that zone of your home.
Recharge and Resume
If you buy cheaper robot vacuums, you’re missing out on some of the smarts on offer here. As the robot sets off to clean your floors, the clock is essentially ticking on your battery life. A smart robot, will monitor this battery level and cross-check it with the remaining work time outstanding.
When the robot’s battery gets low, it will automatically return to the charging dock, then navigate its way back to where it stopped, and resume the cleaning job. This is just smart and a really nice feature. Of course, depending on the size, layout and cleaning required, it is likely the robot will complete the job on a single charge.
As we know, lithium-ion batteries do degrade over their life, so this feature may prove most valuable over the coming years of ownership.
Smart Home Compatible
Our expectations of smart, connected devices are pretty high these days and in terms of smart home integration, the EcoVacs have done a great job of including support for voice control. You can connect the robot with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa which then enables you to yell commands across the room to your Google Home or Echo devices, like “Alexa, ask DEEBOT to start cleaning the kitchen.”
I think I would have been happy with support to simply start or stop cleaning, but going the extra mile to support zone cleaning commands is really impressive and appreciated.
Peace of Mind with On-Demand Video Manager
Finally, the DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI can also be utilised as a roaming security device, thanks to a built-in Video Manager function. You can fire up the mobile app, tap the Video Manager button and check in on their pets, kids and home areas and appliances when out and about, making the DEEBOT a powerful housekeeping tool.
Unfortunately, you can’t do this while cleaning is in progress, while it’s not clear why this limitation exists, I suspect it’s something like a processor limitation, as the robot needs to perfect live-object detection, surface-detection, routing calculations, and monitor the health of the robot while cleaning. If we added capturing and encoding a video stream from the camera module, streaming it over WiFi to your mobile, and ingest input commands, that would be fairly computationally intensive for the hardware inside a robot vacuum.
Not everything’s perfect
Really my only complaint here is around the video capability through the mobile app. It’s increasingly becoming common for robot vacuums to offer this in the top end of the range. My issue really relates to the navigation controls, should you choose to manually drive the robot.
While forward and backwards are intuitive, turning the robot is not. You have to remove your finger from the forward button and then distinctively press the rotate left or right button and that change in input seems to take up a while to activate. This could definitely be improved to simply give the user left or right nav options, and to achieve this, could rotate one wheel faster than the other to still drive forward while turning left.
If they really wanted to blow out this feature, then add Bluetooth connection and support for an Xbox or PlayStation controller.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
The DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI is currently available at Godfreys, JB HiFi and Bunnings. It looks like JB Hi-Fi has the best price at A$999.00 which is $100 off the RRP. More retailers, products, and accessories from the DEEBOT OZMO T8 family will be announced later this year.
If you do want to add the auto-empty station, you can grab and switch it out for your charging dock, for A$399.00 and are available in white or grey.
After having reviewed the Deebot T8+ back in November, I was keen to try out the more affordable DEEBOT Ozmo T8 AIVI. While it doesn’t feature the luxurious self-emptying into a bin of the flagship, there are plenty of great features on offer here.
Perhaps what I like the most about this robot is that it is really quiet, only 67 db at itspeak. In a time where much of Victoria and New South Wales are in lockdown, that means millions of us are working from home. While you’d normally schedule your robots to run while you’re at the office, we’re basically home all day now, so noise levels suddenly matter a lot.
The Ozmo T8 gets about its work, to clean your home in a quiet way, and while you’ll still look at the cleaning path and wonder what drunk programmer coded that in, the reality is, it does a great job and it doesn’t actually matter how long it takes.
This vacuum has really solid cleaning performance while having the smarts to identify and avoid obstacles to reduce the number of times it gets stuck.
I have no doubt some would be nervous about having a camera driving around your house, personally, I don’t have an issue with it. While I do wish the camera controls on the mobile app were more intuitive, being able to remotely operate your vacuum is not only a cool party trick, but is actually really useful in the event you need to check an issue, or as a pseudo security robot.
Overall this is a really solid device at a price that won’t break the bank, representing a great value proposition, allowing you to focus on living life and automate your home cleaning.