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Robotics Toys Hardware

IRobot Looj Gutter Cleaning Robot Review 168

justechn writes "Many of us have seen robots in the movies and wondered how long it would take for them to become a reality. Some of my favorites when I was a kid were Short Circut and Runaway. iRobot is a company that is striving to bring some of that technology home today. Their most popular and well known product is the Roomba vacuuming robot. The Roomba is great, after I finished my review of it and sent it back I went out and bought one. It does its best work picking up pet hair. They just came out with another robot called the Looj. The Looj is used to clean the rain gutters that go around your roof. If you have ever had to do this by hand you know how much of a pain it is. This robot uses a 3 stage auger to break up clogs and sweep all the debris out of your gutter. It is also water proof so you don't have to worry if you have water in your gutter, just don't stand below it when it is cleaning or you will get sprayed." Read on for the rest of justechn's review.
"The Looj does not move on it own like the Roomba does, instead there is a remote control that controls the direction that the auger spins and the direction that the Looj moves (forward and backward). Because it requires constant human interaction I am not even sure I would classify it as a robot, rather it is more like a remote controlled car.

I recently got my hands on one and put it through my gutters. It did a fairly good job. I did have to go over some spots more than once to get all the leaves and dirt out, but in the end my gutters were a lot cleaner after it was done.

The price is also very good. At $99 for the base model it is cheap enough that you can pick one up just to play around with. The more expensive models only give you extra batteries and augers, so you are not missing anything if you go with the base model.

I only found two things about the Looj that I did not like. First, it will not turn corners, it is way too long and not flexible. Second, if you want it to move you have to constantly hold down the forward or backward button. As soon as you let go, it stops. If you could lock in the movement then you could do other things like move your ladder to the next corner while it was cleaning."
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IRobot Looj Gutter Cleaning Robot Review

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  • by cavtroop ( 859432 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:51PM (#23985231)
    ...if you are already up there with a ladder, so you can manually move the Looj around corners etc? Scooping out the leaves is trivial at that point - the real PIA is getting out the ladder, and going up/down and moving it from side to side. Doesn't seem like this performs and real useful activity?
  • by I confirm I'm not a ( 720413 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @06:03PM (#23985321) Journal

    Well, it seems like you'd need to go up the ladder a lot less - once or twice at each corner instead of down-move-ladder-2-metres-up.

    But yes, I can think of easier ways to clean your guttering. I mentioned a long hose and an opening on your down-pipe in an earlier post; another alternative I've seen is simply to insert a long plastic bristle affair along the length of your guttering; the bristles let water pass into the gutter but leaves get stuck on top and break down before they can clog the down-pipe.

    But, and this is a big but, I still want a Looj. If only so I can lean against the fence with a beer and proudly inform the neighbours that I'm supervising the gutter-cleaning robot...

  • by Bloater ( 12932 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @06:04PM (#23985337) Homepage Journal

    Lots of people who own their own homes would take a lifetime to earn $100. However they don't have gutters on their homes :)

  • by f2x ( 1168695 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <x2hsulf>> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @06:23PM (#23985461) Homepage

    For most of the Slashdot crowd it is.

    When it comes to the Slashdot crowd, you've generally got the "haves" and the "have mores". Computers, peripherals, and ISPs ain't cheap, you know.

    And those fortunate enough to own their own house should probably consider prevention rather than maintenance. There are a lot of really novel gutter systems out there today that prevent debris from getting into gutters in the first place.

    This just takes an age old problem and makes it quixotic.

  • by iksbob ( 947407 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @06:50PM (#23985615)

    Agreed... If I were on the design team, I would have pushed for a method of lifting it up to the gutter... A simple hooked pole and a loop on the robot's body would be fine. Of course, you would need some method of triggering it once it was up there... Maybe a two-way remote that would alert the operator when it reaches the end of a run?

  • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:20PM (#23985801) Journal

    You might precariously have a 5.5-foot reach per trip up the ladder. Safely, and to make the math easier, figure 5 feet of gutters per trip. That means 8 trips up the ladder per side of the house. 16 trips at two stories per climb is 32 stories -- the equivalent of a moderately-sized skyscraper.

    Unless you have a 60 degree New England style roof, there's no reason you can't walk around on your roof with a hose and an old broom handle to clean out the gutters.

    Then again, I like having a reason to walk around on roof tops.

  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:43PM (#23985971)

    You shouldn't ever walk around on a roof, it causes a lot of wear and tear and damage to the roofing material.

    And even if you do, most houses have pitched roofs, even a relatively minor pitch is enough to make it extremely dangerous to do. OSHA requirements dictate that a fall of 6" is sufficient to require serious fall protection. I can't recall the last time I saw a house that wasn't that tall.

    Granted you don't have to follow guidelines if you're doing your own house, but it's still a really bad idea.

  • by CrazedWalrus ( 901897 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:02PM (#23986067) Journal

    Heh - I live in a colonial-style house in New Jersey, and the roof is pitched sufficiently that it's pretty scary to walk on. It's not bad when it's dry, but combine that with water, and it's a slip-n-slide-o-fun 30 feet off the ground.

    I enjoy a good walk on the wild side as much as anyone else, but that whole falling to my death part, it's just not me. So far I've managed to avoid dying, but I'm at the point in my life where I'll leave the tempting of fate to the youngsters.

  • by Nossie ( 753694 ) <IanHarvie@@@4Development...Net> on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:16PM (#23986155)

    so is crossing the street in NYC ..

    get over it, it's called life

  • by Gyga ( 873992 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:57PM (#23986421)
    1) Setup on NE corner, run robot. Run robot in reverse. Pickup robot
    2) Repeat on SE corner
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:08PM (#23986491)

    Until the leaves and twigs form a nice layer over the mesh and block the water...

  • by I confirm I'm not a ( 720413 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:11PM (#23986503) Journal

    It's the same - though with a slight lag - in the UK and New Zealand. I'm not completely sure I agree with the AC's point about investment, but if you're buying a house to live in it has to be better than renting over the long term. Even with the sub-prime crisis and property prices falling, buying a house and living in it has to be better than giving money to a landlord, money that you won't see any part of and is only useful while you continue to live in the landlord's house. Falling house prices should be seen as an opportunity - at least for people who are still able to get mortgages...

  • by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @09:48PM (#23986717)

    The price is also very good. At $99 for the base model it is cheap enough that you can pick one up just to play around with.

    For most of the world, $100 is not something you can just spend on a whim. Then again, it might be for the people who buy iRobot products in the first place.

    But if you own a house with gutters that need cleaning, you likely have more disposable income as well. Or you've gotten yourself into bigger trouble than needing your gutters cleaned.

  • by scupper ( 687418 ) * on Saturday June 28, 2008 @11:36PM (#23987283) Homepage
    ...but robots won't have to pay into SSI to help keep it solvent for the baby boomers. America's next big crop is old human beings.
  • by drew30319 ( 828970 ) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @01:09AM (#23987705) Homepage Journal

    Yes, there are millions of poor Mexican peasants in the USA working at a half or third of standard American pay. This is because NAFTA allowed American agri-business like Cargil with huge US government subsidies to flood the Mexican agricultural economy with corn so cheap that the Mexicans couldn't afford to live by growing it. And because NAFTA allowed American bio-industries like Monsanto to replace traditional Mexican corn with patented bio-engineered varieties that the Mexican farmers couldn't afford to buy. People aren't coming here from Mexico because they want to. They come because they have to, or starve.

    I don't know where you're getting your info but I was living on the border before, during and after NAFTA's passage and I guarantee you that illegal immigration is nothing new. Additionally the maquiladora industry was thriving long before NAFTA was even a thought.

  • Robot? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:08AM (#23988171)

    In what sense is this a robot? As I understand it, it moves back and forth along your gutter when you push the corresponding buttons. If this is a robot, then so is an RC car.

    A gutter cleaning robot would emerge from a pod at the top of your roof, and walk around with spider-like legs. It would first map out your roof and send a 3D map to your computer. You would then indicate on the map where it should dump the gutter contents over the edge, and it would go to work. It might take all day to clear out the gutters, but you would be free to leave it alone (after you got bored of watching it.)

  • by nicklott ( 533496 ) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:00AM (#23988595)

    I am missing something here? Wouldn't a much cheaper solution to your "problem" of too many mexicans be to stop subsidising agri-business and make US farmers compete at international prices? The guiding hand and all that..

    BTW if you want cheap and reliable iRobot is *not* who you're looking for.

  • by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @08:04AM (#23989351) Homepage Journal
    No, it's called bad risk assessment.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner