Film and television have long tried to predict what robots of the future will be like. In the early ’60s, The Jetsons showed humans living harmoniously with robots in 2062. 1984’s Terminator had a human-hunting robot in 2029. In Steven Spielberg’s 2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence, robots, with authentic thoughts and emotions, were able to complete basic chores. And in the 2004 thriller I, Robot, robots in 2035 were helping people complete their daily chores and errands — before eventually attempting to take over the world.
As it’s only 2015, we’re still a ways away from knowing if any of the above cinematic predictions will come to fruition, but for now we’re still far from manufacturing a device, or robot, that can eliminate the majority of our at-home responsibilities. There are, however, home robots and smart devices that can make domestic life easier. These devices can’t walk a dog, buy groceries or have heated debates about politics, but they can help minimize your daily grunt work and improve your quality of life. We’ve broken them down according to which chores they do best.
Best Task-Oriented Robots
Do This…Or Get Sent to the Woodshed
iRobot Roomba 650
Best Smart Vacuum: This $400 dirt-sucking robo-vac is the one that started it all. Or at least it clued the mainstream into the idea of utilizing robots to tackle chores at home. The Roomba 650 can map out your abode for organized cleaning, return to its home base for charging and vacuum everything from clay to pet hair.
Dyson 360 Eye
Editor’s Pick: The new Dyson 360 Eye isn’t available in the States yet. But it’s coming, and it promises to be more powerful, with its Dyson Digital Motor V2, than the Roomba 650. The vacuum gets its name from a 360-degree vision system, which allows the vacuum to know where it is in a given room — and where it’s already cleaned. Unfortunately its battery only lasts 20 to 30 minutes; but if it’s as efficient as it promises to be, it won’t need long.
iRobot Scooba 450
Best Smart Mop: Few things in life crush the soul like mopping: hence the creation of iRobot’s $600 Scooba. Much like its vacuum products, the Scooba scoots around your floors, but this guy cleans and polishes tile, hardwood and other hard surfaces.
Best Smart Lawn Mower: The Robomow is available in five different models, varying in the size of the yard it can handle and how fine a grass length it can cut. To mow, simply program the size of your lawn in the Robomow, and it’ll start mowing (although in random directions). If you want complete control of the machine, like a remote-controlled car, you can use the Robomow app. The biggest lawn a Robomow can handle is 3/4 of an acre. So if yours is above that — too bad.
Best Robotic Litter Box: Cats, as the Internet has shown us, are hilarious pets. The downside to owning one, however, is the litter-changing process. Mercifully, the $369 Litter Robot II is available to handle that for you, giving you clean hands, peace of mind and a few extra minutes to check out the latest feline memes making their way around.
iRobot Looj 330
Best Robotic Gutter Cleaner: Gutters are a necessarily evil for many, and cleaning ’em out is one part dangerous and one part miserable. The $300 Looj is something of a rooting device designed to hustle down your gutter and flick debris out and onto the ground, preferably while you watch from a nearby hammock.
Best Smart Devices
Needing More of a Human Touch
Best Smart Multimedia Device: What does $180 buy you? A tubular Bluetooth speaker that you can yell commands at. From controlling an assortment of Philips Hue lights to queuing up a movie on a Fire TV, the Echo learns to operate more every day by just listening for your call.
Nest Learning Thermostat
Best Smart Thermostat: For $249, you too can own the world’s most beautifully designed thermostat. It syncs with all sorts of other home automation products and seeks to minimize energy usage by only triggering your HVAC when you’re home or on the way there.