software solutions to hardware problems,
and outbreaks of the future.

© 2007 Jamie Zawinski <>

So, my Roomba started misbehaving: it kept turning to the right and backing up, and generally acting like one of its sensors was gummed up. I tried the things their web site suggested to no avail, and took the whole wheel assembly apart, and couldn't find anything amiss. It's out of warranty, but I mailed iRobot anyway to find out if they had a repair program, or if I'd just need to buy a whole new one.

Their response? "The Roomba's behavior is indicating that the internal wheel sensor has malfunctioned. We will send you a device called an osmo that will update the Roomba's software and most likely eliminate the issue."

So they sent me this stylish little dongle that plugs into the serial port and flashes the firmware, and an envelope to mail it back afterward.

And it works fine now. So the new firmware apparently detects broken wheel sensors and compensates for them. Which is awesome.

And, they did this for free, which is also awesome.

But let me rephrase that story:

I just felt a bit like I was living in the future for a minute there. I got a little chill.

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