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Long exposure photos of a Roomba paths (12 pictures)

Roomba is a series of autonomous robotic vacuum cleaners. Under normal house conditions, the Roomba is able to autonomously vacuum the floor while navigating and avoiding obstacles. Roomba was introduced in 2002. As of February 2011, over 6 million units have been sold worldwide.

Roombas do not map out the rooms they are cleaning. Instead, they rely on a few simple algorithms such as spiral cleaning (spiraling), room crossing, wall-following and random walk angle-changing (after bumping into an object or wall). This design is based on MIT researcher and iRobot CTO Rodney Brooks’ philosophy that robots should ‘be like insects, equipped with simple control mechanisms tuned to their environments‘. The result is that although Roombas are effective at cleaning rooms, they take several times as long to do the job as a person would. Roombas may cover some areas many times, and other areas only once or twice. [Source]

Roombas also come equipped with color-changing LEDs that indicate things like remaining battery power and dirty spots. The LED lights combined with a seemingly random cleaning path has led some intrepid photographers to take long exposure photographs. The results, a kind of ‘light painting’ are mesmerizing.

Some artists have even taken the idea a step further, using multiple roombas in a single room or affixing various colored LEDs to the Roomba to garner a multitude of results. And with no two Roomba paths being the same, the possibilities are endless.

For more please visit Roomba Art on Flickr

1. Roomba Long Exposure


By bartlec | Flickr

45 minute exposure of my Roomba cleaning a room. This was my 4th attempt, I repeatedly had the f-stop too low and the resulting noise was too great. The silly bit is that since my floor was very clean after the previous 3 attempts I had to sprinkle dirt in spots to get the blue circles that come from the Roomba spot cleaning.

2. Roomba Art


By macsolve | Flickr

4 x 60 sek, Roomba’s own power light (amber, half charge)

3. IBR Roomba Swarm in the Dark IV


By IBRoomba | Flickr

Part of a “Roomba Art” picture series produced by Tobias Baumgartner, Marcus Brandenburger, Tom Kamphans, Alexander Kroeller, and Christiane Schmidt of the IBR Algorithm Group and Braunschweig University of Technology.

We had a swarm of seven Roombas, each with a differently colored LED on top. The roombas are operating at the same time — can you spot the collisions?

4. Roomba at work


By eblack | Flickr

I like these kind of pictures. Also the Roomba looks scary through night vision goggles.



By reconscious | Flickr

5 minute exposure with the accelerometer driven LEDs. This test was a total dud. The white LED that was attached to forward velocity was too bright and totally drown out the blue and red LEDs



By reconscious | Flickr

7. Take 1, weak colors


By mikebala | Flickr

8. Mmmm candycanes


By reconscious | Flickr

This is closer to what I wanted. I swapped the LEDs around so that the forward velocity reading was feeding the red LED, and was almost always on. The blue and white LEDs lit up whenever the Roomba slowed down or its motion jerked. I either have a rough unevern carpet, or the Roomba’s little motor was having a hard time. I suspect the latter since it was running off of a 15 minute charge.

9. 60 Minutes of Cleaning Action


By Calarcom | Flickr

2 minute exposures done for 60 minutes and stacked on top of one another. One other exposure was taken to get the detail of the room so it would not be all black.

One of the cool things about letting the Roomba do the light photography for me means I will not know what the final product looks like until I get it on the computer. It all depends on how dirty the floor is, how long the battery lasts, how fast it finds the parameter and what not.

10. Tron Test


By Calarcom | Flickr

2 battery powered glow sticks can do wonders. My wide angle lens attachment however is not as crisp as I wish it was.

11. Roomba Light Trails – First Run


By 3rdeyepro | Flickr

16-35mm 2.8L + Camera Crane + 5D Mark II + Long Shutter + Roomba + Random LED Lights

12. Roomba’s night job track #2


By Alexander Kachkaev | Flickr

Light trail left by iRobot Roomba during its first 30 minutes of cleaning.

The wall on the right is illuminated by a LED on Roomba’s base, a place where the robot parks to charge its battery after finishing. As there was almost no furniture in the room, Roomba did quite a nice job cleaning everything but tiny areas in corners that are simply unreachable to it. Lighting is going from a window in an opposite wall. Basically, it’s just city glowing, no street lamps or any other light sources are nearby.

One more photo: flic.kr/p/ap13sB