A dog’s intuition is always on the nose. Its undiscriminating loyalty and aptitude for reading human emotions are the reasons we are wooed into a life-long friendship. However, despite our best efforts, sniffing out the intention of our furry pals has remained a perennial struggle. Is our dog happy? Is she plotting our undoing in retaliation for fostering a machine that encroaches on her individual space? Is that why she took the liberty to redecorate our kitchen with shreds of toilet paper? So many questions, yet the curious incident of our dog in the nighttime remains a complete mystery.
Canines are known for their boundless capacity for interspecies love. What experts have failed to inform us, however, is that their unwavering affection does not quite extend to cybernetic beings. Humans are far more predictable — getting the leash means playtime in the park; an empty seat on the sofa presents an opportunity for snuggles. Any delicious smell that emanates from the kitchen is an invitation to a meal they can reasonably expect to share. For the reasons above, can you blame them for creating new holes in your socks when a foreign gizmo threatens to swallow every crumb on the floor and deny them the chance of a snack?
If the Samsung Jet Bot AI+ was at fault, that was only because it upheld excellent work ethics. In the several weeks we spent with Jim (you can rename your robot vacuum through Samsung’s SmartThings app), it allowed us to eat our cupcakes and drop them too. It bustled to and fro tirelessly between rooms, avoiding the no-go zonas we had set when it created a fairly accurate map of our home via its LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor. Jim was highly independent too, as it made responsible decisions based on what it detected via a 3D sensor and nimbly navigated around obstacles to carry on its merry way. The latest digital innovations have rewired our brains to fall for distractions, but an evolved invention like Jim was too smart to get derailed by a sparkly shoe, a particularly chewy phone cord, or something as banal as a four-legged beast. Sucking (things) up is its sole life purpose.
Does the Jet Bot have a retro inclination? We had no way of finding out, but it came to life with a chime reminiscent of an old PC booting up. The 4.4kg-orb could whizz around with a low hum — albeit sans the cuteness and speed of Wall-E — for 90 minutes on a single charge. Best of all, it came with a feature once limited to vacuums almost twice its price: automatic dirt disposal. That is a fancy way of saying that the device has a command center, which traps 99.99% of fine dust via its multi-layered filtration system and sucks out the debris from your vacuum without dirtying your hands. The technology is called Air Pulse for a reason: It operates with a loud whoosh akin to a plane taking off.
Owning an automated sidekick means you no longer need to walk a vacuum cleaner by the hose like a puppy. The Jet Bot is equipped with brushes made from anti-static fibers, with self-cleaning extractors to avoid tangles. Plus, not only does it avoid wheel marks on a fluffed-up carpet, but it also automatically adjusts its suction power without bruising your floor, whether it is hardwood, tile, or marble. The Samsung contraption is not like most vacuums, whose most perverse (or some say satisfying) design is to let you see the dust you have collected in their opaque chamber. The Jet Bot hides all the dirt — including the shame and horrifying truth about your sloppiness at housework — within its solid and stoic exterior.
But before you spiral into a bundle of guilt, the Jet Bot is not entirely perfect too. Jim made a valiant bid for freedom when it almost toppled down a flight of stairs and hopelessly trapped itself between the bookshelf and TV console a couple of times. Its Jet Cyclone technology, which pulls dust into the dustbin and reduces potential clogs, is a wonderful promise, only if you do not live with a golden retriever that sheds all the time. Hoping for any vacuum robot to sweep the tight edges of a cupboard or maneuver seamlessly around a labyrinth of chair legs is too far-fetched — that miracle has yet to arrive. But even when we made a special effort to keep things off the floor, spools of dog fur were misdiagnosed as roadblocks, which prevented the space from being cleaned.
To be fair, we do not expect artificial intelligence to navigate with the same precision our human mind can with a handheld vacuum, but it should not make a bigger mess than the one it was supposed to clean up. Having said that, the Jet Bot triumphed in areas such as scheduling cleaning sessions or spying on our pets and their shenanigans via the front camera that can live stream real-time video. For a robot helper that can maintain a perceivable level of cleanliness, self-empty its gunk, co-exist with a hyperactive dog and tidy up after everybody, the zealous Jet Bot sounds like a peaceful addition to a busy family always on the go. That is until it meets its true match: the territorial house cat.