Despite their overall hands-off capabilities, most robot vacuums require some sort of pre-cleaning to avoid eaten phone chargers or socks. It's just an expected side chore that comes with trusting an inanimate object to not get tripped up when you're not home.
Until now, maybe? The Samsung Jet Bot AI+ robot vacuum operates with artificial intelligence and a 3D sensor that's supposed to be able to detect the small objects that, usually, only humans recognize as a problem.
Does Samsung achieve the dream that is a robot vacuum that can truly just be set loose?
There's something very futuristic about the Jet Bot AI+'s look. Samsung Director of Product Marketing Rich Leonarz told us during a direct video briefing that Samsung understands where people will be keeping a robot vacuum: out in the open. Robot vacuums need access to their dock and can't be hidden in a closet like a manual vacuum, so Samsung wanted the Jet Bot AI+ to have some serious curb appeal. It's really a flex in front of guests.The Jet Bot AI+ has a futuristic design.Credit: leah stodart / mashableThe tapered edge allows the vacuum to fit under furniture.Credit: leah stodart / mashable
It meshes the simple circular design of most robovacs and the corner-detailing D-shape that a few others, like the Roomba s9+, rock. Does it resemble a waffle maker? Maybe. But the combo of soft and harsh lines is actually pretty sick, and the shiny all-white exterior with silver trim looks so damn clean. The auto-empty dock is slick and compact as well.
What's particularly genius about this flat edge is that it's tapered. Measuring under two inches tall at its skinniest, the Jet Bot AI+ can squeeze one side under the lip of furniture instead of just closely following the edge and hoping that its side brush can grab the debris that's been kicked underneath.
Setup and use of the Jet Bot AI+ through Samsung's SmartThings app is very straightforward, especially when you have a speaker on the vacuum itself prompting you through the process. In the app, you can send Jet Bot to make a map of your home (which it draws up faster than most LiDAR bots I've tried), label rooms and no-go zones, change cleaning pattern (middle of room or walls first), schedule, send for a spot cleaning, activate the live stream, and more.
Imagine the sound of an old laptop booting up. The Jet Bot AI+ is barely louder than that, even when it's in boosting mode on carpet. The auto-emptying whoosh is expectedly loud, but the hum during actual vacuuming is definitely less bothersome than competing vacs with similar suction power (and less jarring for little kids or skittish pets).
Bare floors, like hardwood and tile, are easy for the Jet Bot AI+ as expected. I appreciated that it actually picked up most stray pieces of my cat's pellet litter, which are roughly the size of Tic Tacs. As for soft floors, my long hair that's been pressed into carpet was successfully picked up. I have yet to need to flip the vacuum over to release spooled hair.
The Jet Bot AI+ is not the fastest cleaner. Unless you switch its cleaning mode to the speedier skim, it'll repeat its trips around the room four or five times.
The clean definitely feels thorough (albeit a bit unnecessary) after this. It leaves tidy lines behind on carpets like the best of lawn mowing jobs, proving that it combed the carpets well. The carpet imprint also show how nimble the Jet Bot is for its broad build. It went right up to objects like my cat's scratcher or the storage bins under my coffee table and maneuvered around them as closely as possible.
Not a single charger was eaten that day. In fact, the app even notes when it comes across an obstacle and allows you to decipher what it found (like a sock/towel, cup/plate, or power cord). The Jet Bot also vocally announces when it's avoiding an obstacle through its speaker.
Other times, the camera and object sensors weren't so cautious. More on that later.
The on-board camera doesn't just aid with navigation and obstacle avoidance. It's a whole ass pet camera on wheels. In home monitoring mode, you can see what the Jet Bot AI+ sees while it drives around, either while going from room to room or remote controlled by you.A wild Sansa appeared!Credit: leah stodart / mashable
What went from high-tech side feature quickly became as useful as the vacuum itself. My kitten Sansa and I both hate when she has to be left home alone, especially now that she's bigger and capable of getting into some serious shit when she's bored. The ability to patrol my apartment and see what she's up to when she's not hanging out in the view of my stationary pet cameras is so comforting. The Jet Bot AI+ can also go find your pet if you don't feel like watching the live stream.
I'm surprised to say that the Jet Bot's accuracy when it comes to obstacle sensing was kind of volatile.
At times, the sensors were too good to the point where they'd mistake a bath mat or doormat for a towel. Sometimes the Jet Bot would eventually realize and go back to make a pass over the mat, but during most sessions, it would conclude cleaning in that room and bounce with kitty litter still scattered. I guess that's better than getting stuck on a rug and not being able to finish the rest of the apartment until I can physically move it — except the Jet Bot AI+ did get lost and announce that it couldn't find the station more than once, so it ended up getting stuck in the bathroom, anyway.SEE ALSO:Have a pet? Don't do all the cleaning yourself. Here are the best robot vacuums for pet hair.
Of course, this is on the occasion that the Jet Bot actually made it to said room and didn't turn around because "one or more rooms" or "one or more areas" could not be cleaned. This happened a lot, and despite the app filling me in on the roadblocks, it feels like a single shirt or cat toy shouldn't prevent the whole room from being swept.
Now, to the opposite problem.
Cleaning near my cat's food and water is one time when I'd actually prefer that the object sensors be overly cautious. Until I drew a no-go zone, there wasn't a kitchen cleaning session where the Jet Bot left them alone. It never failed to push those bowls halfway across the kitchen floor and, one time, shoved their little stand up against a wall and spilled water and food everywhere.The Jet Bot AI+ knocked over bowls of cat food and water instead of sensing and avoiding them.Credit: leah stodart / mashable
Deploying no-go zones is a normal part of robot vacuum use. I don't expect the artificial intelligence to navigate with the same precision that my human mind can when using my Dyson. But when a (really expensive) robot vacuum is specifically advertised to be a top-tier object avoider, it probably shouldn't make a bigger mess than the one it was supposed to clean up.
The Jet Bot AI+ is easily one of the most high-tech and unique cleaning devices available in 2021. It generates truly reliable suction on various sizes of debris without making too much of a racket, and looks good while doing it. The fact that it acts as a literal remote-controlled pet camera while it scoops up pet hair is reason enough for pet owners to splurge.
But judging it based strictly off of its ~thing~ (object recognition) the Jet Bot AI+ dims its shine by being inconsistent with avoiding objects and rooms. It roves intuitively enough to avoid getting stuck on a cord or in places it can't fit. Though you're unlikely to come home to a floor that hasn't been cleaned for that reason, you may come home to random missed spots that were too close to an obstacle for comfort.