ILIFE, one of the leading manufacturers of suction robots, is now launching new models on the market almost every three months. These usually score points with a good price-performance ratio, but technologically they are not yet on a par with Xiaomi or Ecovacs. Until now, the ILIFE A7 was only available as a model with app control, but without mapping or room surveying. This backlog is to be reduced and so ILIFE presented the new A9 series at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. A challenge or just a scratch with your hooves?
A clear technology/marketing pattern cannot be discerned here, neither from the letters nor from the numbers. Only the identifiers “S” and “Pro” can be found at the end of the product name when individual suction cups are extended. The ILIFE A9 seems to be the bigger brother of the A8, but this cannot be said exactly. After all, both have the same navigation as an estimation factor.
The A9 series comprises two models: the A9 and the A9S. Both models are identical – except for the wipe function on the A9S. So the following notes apply to both models and only the paragraph about the wipe function applies to the A9S.
When it comes to design, the Chinese have probably looked to the USA and used iRobots Roombas to come up with ideas. When I discovered the suction robot, I thought it was a fake of the American robots. Coated with an aluminium alloy, the A9 and A9S make a good impression both visually and (at a distant glance) also in terms of workmanship. Here you can count on the usual ILIFE quality again.
The charging station is identical to that of the ILIFE A6 and A7. After all, it’s the manufacturer’s fittest station. The camera navigation has been further developed in comparison to that of the ILIFE A8 in the A9 series. In this type of navigation, the suction robot orients itself on the ceiling and orients itself from the charging station on the basis of its movements. Initial experience reports will have to show exactly how this will work.
The “ILIFE Robot” (Android, iOS) app, which was used for the first time for the A7, has confirmed our expectations that future models will also have app control in their range. The A9 remembers its route and transfers it to a map in the app. It is unclear whether the maps can be saved and whether it is possible to divide the map into zones (draw forbidden zones on the map). Fact is: The map is displayed “live”, i.e. immediately transferred to the app.
Like the A7, the suction robot is again supplied with many accessories, again there is a newly designed remote control, but no virtual wall for staking out areas that the suction robot is not supposed to travel. These areas should at least be marked on the map. With the dimensions 33.0 x 32.0 x 7.6 cm, the suction robot is quite flat and comes under many pieces of furniture. Unlike the Mi Robot, for example, the two new models work with two brush heads on the underside. Another interesting point: An Alexa controller should also be included in the software package.
What sets the A9S apart from other suction robots is an adjustable wipe function. Inside the app you can adjust how much the mop presses the water tank on the floor. With this patented “vibration water tank”, the manual wiping with the biceps force is supposed to balance out halfway. It certainly cannot be done in practice, but it is a step in the right direction in terms of development technology. In addition, the app allows you to adjust how much water (steps 1-3) is to reach the floor from the water tank.
If this only works halfway in practice, it would be a great step forward for the wiping function, which has so far been so weak with household robots. Nevertheless, one can be sceptical with a clear conscience, after all, we have already tested a large number of very weakly wiping suction robots.
The first ILIFE robots with mapping can be expected to be exciting, but the wipe function is much more exciting. Finally be able to adjust independently how much water gets from the tank to the floor and give the suction robot commands on how to handle the mop? Sounds good at first. When navigating with a camera, I first have to think about 2010, but a lot has happened since then. Let’s hope that ILIFE is really involved.