I have known about the Ecovacs Deebot (or Deepoo if you like) robots for some time now, but I haven't had the chance to see them in action yet. Our great friends at Geeks.hu have stopped by at the Ecovacs booth at IFA in Berlin to see how the robots work in action.
Ecovacs is not nearly as known as Roombas, Navibots or Robokings are, but the top of the line Ecovacs Deebot D76 is certainly one of the most unique robot on the market. Although the front reminds us to iRobot Roombas, the back to Electrolux Trilobites, and the bottom to Kärchers, the combination of the designs and technologies of these great robots could theoretically result in a great product. The uniqueness comes from the fact that the docking station of the robot empties the robot's dust bin before it starts charging its battery. The technology seems to be the same (or very similar) to what Kärcher uses on the RC3000: the high capacity vacuum cleaner built into the docking station sucks out the dirt through the air inlet what the robot used to pick the dirt and debris up from the floor. This self emptying dust bin technology allows the robot to run without human intervention for days, allowing the owner to clean the dust bin only once a week (or even biweekly in cleaner or smaller houses). The emptying process takes only about 12 seconds.
Before we accuse the Chinese designers with copying well designed competitors, we have to admit that they have added quite a few thoughtful improvements to these robots. One of the most important is that it comes with two side brushes (unlike the Kärcher RC3000 that has none) to sweep all dust and debris from the sides towards the narrow suction inlet in the middle of the robot. This allows the Deebots to do better job along walls and furniture, what greatly improves the cleaning ability of the robot. Ecovacs also designed the vacuum cleaner of the dock as a removable addon, so it can be used as a small regular vacuum cleaner to do areas unreachable to the robot itself.
Ecovacs Deebot robots do not have navigational and mapping capabilities, therefore they work in a random pattern, just like iRobot Roomba robots do. At the moment it is unclear to me how good they are to solve challenges provided by fringes, cables or narrow passages, but as soon as I can get my hands on a review unit, I will find it out. According to the specifications, the Deebot D76 model is capable of cleaning 120 sqm (1291 sq ft) .
The Ecovacs robots are already available in some countries in Europe, and even the top of the line D76 costs less than €450.