Roomba and Stairs

I'm not saying a Roomba can GO DOWN stairs!! Most people are worried about the Roomba *falling* down stairs. For the first 4 months that we were a Roomba Household, we only let our Roomba run on the first floor. I was really worried about a relatively expensive piece of hardware tumbling down the stairs and falling into tiny little pieces.

The downstairs Roomba did such an AMAZING job that after a few months I really wanted one for upstairs too. That way the downstairs one could be set to run at night when we were asleep upstairs - and the upstairs one could be set to run during the day, when we were downstairs. Both would learn their respective floor layouts with accuracy and would become experts at their cleaning jobs.

The big concern was, of course, the stairs. How would the upstairs Roombie handle the staircase? Would he fall down it? Would he stop??

The first day I had the new Upstairs Roomba I watched him very closely, nervously standing nearby every time he went near the stairs. He would go to the edge, stop when his lip was over the edge, and back up and go away. No matter what angle he approached the stairs from, he would stop and turn around.

The next few days, I made sure to pay attention when Roomba-Upstairs was running. Once during each run he would stop and I'd find him "dangling" a bit over the edge - i.e. he'd gone enough over the edge that his rear wheels were up. He hadn't actually *fallen* though. I pushed him back and he went on his merry way.

After those few days - with him learning the layout - he's never even gone tail-up since then. I'll comment that our upper hallway is carpet, and our stairs are carpet. So there's no "slide" possible at all. The carpet keeps the Roomba in place. Still, we haven't ever seen the Roomba fall over an edge. It seems the only reason he sometimes does the tail up is that he is coming at a fast clip out of the study room upstairs, which faces the stairs. If he gets up a fast speed and goes directly for the stairs, he might not quite sense the stair drop in time to fully stop in time. But again, that was part of the learning curve. Now that he knows there's an "edge" there, he doesn't go towards it high speed any more, and is fine.

Part of the key with the Roomba seems to be setting the base in one spot, not moving the Roomba around manually and letting him learn his environment. Once he does, he's very good at figuring out where the dangers are and how to best handle the cleaning task.

October 2006 Update
We did have ONE case where the Roomba has come down the stairs. Apparently he got moving at a vast clip from the room opposite, and didn't have enough time to stop before he went over the edge. The Roomba is VERY HEAVY and went flying down the stairs with a crash. I was very lucky - I was only about 5' away from the stairs at the time. Since then we had the "virtual wall" active at the stairs, just in case. If you ever see your Roomba coming down the stairs, don't attempt to catch it! Yes, you love your Roomba and it seems light - but it is quite a heavy, spinning, mechanical missile.

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