First off, no, I didn't imagine I'd read the words "world's fastest Roomba" today either. But that's enough to get my attention on its own, and I only wish this robot vacuum cleaner could've beaten its own speed record—rather than yardsale-ing itself into a curb.
The "Vroomba" as it's nicknamed was developed by YouTube user Electrosync, who with a previous iteration of the robot achieved a top speed of 35 mph. That doesn't sound fast, but remember, a Roomba has no suspension, wheels just a few inches in diameter, and a tricky tandem two-wheel-drive configuration that's better for pivoting in place than achieving high speeds. It's unstable by design, and we all know what the best solution is for high-speed stability: Aerodynamic downforce.
Seeking to achieve a higher speed, Electrosync 3D-printed stronger, more durable parts for the Roomba out of nylon carbon fiber. He fabricated new gearbox mounts, a splitter, diffuser, wing, and an underbody tray too. He also switched to an RC controller with gyro stabilization to improve stability under power. Unfortunately, the bot remained hard to control, which would prove consequential.
During a top-speed run on an asphalt street, the Vroomba reached 27 mph before spearing into a curb and shattering into four large pieces. One major assembly fell down a storm drain, and the Roomba's original chassis sustained significant damage. What's more, the onboard camera was destroyed in the impact too, and its memory couldn't be recovered.
But all the original composite parts were okay, so Electrosync will reconstruct the chassis using carbon fiber for another attempt at the record. It won't be acknowledged by Guinness but it's not like that many people are fighting over the record for the fastest Roomba, are they?
Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach them here: email@example.com