Following a firmware update gone awry, many Roombas seem to have had one drink too many and are acting "drunk", report Reddit users last week. The robot home-helpers have been doing all sorts of crazy moves, from driving off without the owner’s instructions, to spinning around themselves, leaving users scratching their heads about what could possibly be wrong.
Although manufacturer iRobot has acknowledged the issues, it may take many weeks before the drunk and disorderly bots are fixed.
The latest update, 3.12.8, was released in late January in an attempt to fix bugs with the Roomba and add some new features. However, it quickly became infamous for creating a number of unexplained behaviors. The automated robots suddenly struggled to navigate, ending up in rooms they were not supposed to be in or simply spinning on the spot, and many users reported their preset programs were wiped in the i7 and S9 models. With Roombas fetching price tags of up to $1099, those with issues are understandably upset.
Unfortunately, even rolling back the update to a previous iteration provided no relief, with another user stating that their device was "getting dumber by the day". Even following an update rollback, Reddit user u/HobosInTuxedos reported: Roomba spinning around itself, sometimes slamming its bumper into furniture; driving around in weird patterns; driving off the dock diagonally; taking a very long time to clean my main living area; and going to recharge 5 times for a TOTAL of 8 minutes - where it was previously able to clean on a single charge.
Despite their frustrations, others had no issues with the latest firmware, stating the updates "only make it smarter and stronger" – which sounds frighteningly like the start of a vacuum-based apocalypse.
iRobot has since responded.
"We've worked with impacted customers to roll their robot's software back," iRobot says in a statement reported by the BBC.
"We are also implementing an update to ensure any similar issues are avoided moving forward. This update is being deployed to all customers over the course of the next several weeks."
As with all complicated and automated tech, Roombas can have a mind of their own. Perhaps the best story of all is the man whose Roomba had a collision with dog poop whilst cleaning. Unfazed by its soiled wheels, it then smeared it all over the house while happily performing it’s ‘cleaning’ duties. After others shared their similar stories, this sad smear on the Roomba’s history was named the ‘poopocalypse’.
While automation is coming along leaps and bounds, unfortunately, common sense in robots may be a little way off.