Home and Garage Power Tools

Ever wonder about the algorithms behind robot vacuum cleaners? Or how an induction stove works? This week Vince and Allison explore the design of tools for the home and garage.

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Design advances in Robot Vacuum cleaners, Induction Ranges , Pneumatic Nailers and the Exmark Lazer Z Mower

Today, we're looking at labor saving tools for your home and garage. Let's start inside the house with the design advances in robot vacuum cleaners. Since the Roomba was introduced in 2002 the category has grown to millions of units sold each year. Roombas rely on a few simple algorithms such as spiral cleaning, room crossing, wall-following and random walk angle-changing after bumping into an object. This results in a much slower cleaning process than a human would follow. The Navibot and Hauzen series of robots from Samsung follow a different algorithm, maintaining a straight lined pattern and then mapping the room accordingly. They start by mapping out the room with the aid of a camera aimed at the ceilings and then build their own maps from on-the-ground feedback.

Recently introduced to North America , induction stovetops are revolutionizing kitchen safety. The stovetop only heats magnetic cookware, your pots and pans made of iron or steel, leaving the glass surface cool to the touch. A coil inside the stovetop emits an electromagnetic field, which gives the magnetic pots and pans an electric current. This current essentially allows the pans to heat themselves, reducing energy consumption as well as the risk of burns for the chef. The newest induction stovetops don't rely on the traditional four burners (or elements). Instead, the stove can detect the magnetic cookware wherever it is on the surface and activate the appropriate coils. This unique feature increases convenience and allows for unusually shaped pots and pans.

And now we head out to the garage where some excellent tools await. Engineers at Bosch designed a new air chamber so that these nailers are 20% lighter and 10% more powerful than other nailers in their class. In a traditional nailer, an air return chamber stores pressure to return the piston to the start position. In addition to adding bulk and weight, the return chamber increases resistance to the piston, reducing the force of the nailer. In the new Bosch design, the air beneath the piston is exhausted out a vent rather than being stored, so less energy is wasted. A second air injection resets the piston.

Even better than a robot vacuum is a massive lawnmower you can ride!

Not only is the Lazer Z fun to ride, there are lots of different models and configurations. In fact, the company was able to introduce 5 new energy-efficient models at the October 2010 industry trade show. How do they keep bringing so many new products to market so quickly? Companies like Exmark use concurrent engineering v a process that allows multiple engineers work on one digital product model at a time.