Robot mops are nothing new and nor are hybrid robot vacs with a mop attached to the rear. Take the iRobot Braava Jet M6 for instance, a dedicated robot mop that automatically cleans hard floors so you don’t have to.
It’s not a perfect solution, mind, because while the Braava will almost always avoid rugs and carpets and therefore refrain from soaking them in hard floor solution, it also won’t traverse a carpet or rug that’s positioned between two sections of hard floor. And that means getting off one’s posterior to help it over the obstacle and then again 30 minutes later to carry it back to its original position so it can head back to the charging dock. Not ideal if you have a mixed floor layout, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Well Roborock addressed this conundrum to some degree last year with the excellent Roborock S7, an autonomous vacuum cleaner-cum-mop that ingeniously raised its mop whenever it detected carpet or rugs. However, the mop only raised by 5mm which is fine for thin pile carpets and slim rugs but to so great on the thicker stuff.
And that brings me neatly to today’s product announcement from iRobot. In a nutshell, the forthcoming Roomba Combo j7+ is essentially a modification of the current Roomba J7+ of which I’m a big fan, mostly because of its sleek – albeit noisy – bin-emptying system and clever iRobot OS smart-mapping software that ensures the J7 rarely stumbles blithely into obstacles like kids’ toys, discarded charging cables and, yes, even doggie poo.
Hence, like the Roborock S7, the Roomba Combo j7+ is essentially a 2-in-1 vac mop. However, perhaps having seen how some of its competitor’s machines operate, iRobot has given the Combo j7+ a rear mop that lifts so high above the machine that it couldn’t possibly accidentally mop a carpet even if it tried.
How does it work? Well, to quote some of the press blurb, ‘two fully retracting, durable, metal mop arms raise the mop pad when the robot senses carpet and rugs, preventing unwanted wet messes.’ In other words, it’s a bit like the Roborock S7 only better because, as any Roomba fan familiar with iRobot model numbers will know, the + in the J7 title refers to iRobot’s excellent Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal system. And, as any owner of a robot vac without a bin-emptying system will testify, having a robot vac that can’t empty its own titchy bin on a regular basis without human interference is almost as useful as a chocolate teapot.
I’m super keen to get my hands on the new Roomba Combo j7+ so I can see it in the flesh and give it a full test. I’m also looking forward to experimenting with iRobot’s OS 5.0 Home Intelligence software that is said to ‘deliver a premium and customisable experience for all customers, including pet owners, busy families and anybody looking for more control over how they clean’.
However, not to spoil the party, I am a bit concerned about the delicacy off the raised mop and how it may fair in a collision with someone’s feet. The fact its mop arms are made of metal is very reassuring, but knowing how many times I’ve personally almost tripped over a robot vac while it had stopped momentarily, I’m wondering how well this one’s unprotected mop may survive in a similar incident.
I’ll let you know a bit more once I get some hands-on with it. But in the meantime, here’s some info on its availability.
When and where can I buy an iRobot Roomba Combo j7+?
Finer details are yet to emerge but at the time of writing the Roomba Combo j7+ will be available from today and retail in the UK for £999 and £799 without the Clean Base. It will initially be available from the iRobot store (opens in new tab) and presumably thereafter from other outlets like Amazon.
In the USA, the Roomba Combo j7+ also launches today with a retail price of $1,099. It will be available from the iRobot store and select third-party retailers. Canada and Europe will follow shortly afterwards with a launch on the 4th of October, 2022.
According to our press release, iRobot OS 5.0 updates have already begun rolling out to customers worldwide.
Want to see which robot vacs we rate most highly? Check out our guide to the Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners
And if you’re looking for some other great mopping systems, mosey on over to our guide to the Best Hard Floor Cleaners