Two Former Google Engineers Have a Product and a Strategy to Improve Robot Vacuums

The Matic, a fully autonomous robot vacuum, is claimed by its founders to clean floors without getting stuck on cables or toys and without transmitting a map of your home to the cloud. Plus, it comes at a price of just $1,800.

Two Former Google Engineers Have a Product and a Strategy to Improve Robot Vacuums
Two Former Google Engineers Have a Product and a Strategy to Improve Robot Vacuums

The Matic is a novel robot vacuum that takes a unique approach to floor cleaning. Created by two former Google Nest engineers, it mimics human movement, relying on visual processing rather than spatial awareness. Using five RGB cameras for navigation, it distinguishes itself from today’s robot vacuums, which depend on sensors, bumpers, and lidar technology.

Two Former Google Engineers Have a Product and a Strategy to Improve Robot Vacuums

This approach theoretically makes it less susceptible to common robot vacuum issues like dealing with high-pile rugs, cables, and tight spaces since it can visually sense its surroundings in real time instead of relying on a preprogrammed map. Moreover, it operates solely locally, with no cloud involvement. Mapping occurs on the device, and it doesn’t need an internet connection to function, ensuring your data stays within your home.

After its initial launch as a subscription model earlier this year, Matic is now available for outright purchase. You can pre-order it at for a discounted price of $1,495 (regularly $1,795), and it’s expected to be delivered in March 2024. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to personally see or test the new robot, the demo footage I’ve viewed has left a positive impression on me.

Matic has undergone six years of development, starting when its founders, Mehul Nariyawala and Navneet Dalal, departed from Google Nest. They leveraged their collective expertise in facial recognition and gesture detection, which they gained at the startup Flutter, to address the challenge of crafting a genuinely autonomous home robot cleaner.

Nariyawala explained, “We’re both dads, and I have a Golden Retriever, and we were just not impressed with the abilities of most robot vacuums to keep our house clean.” This dissatisfaction motivated them to embark on the journey of creating a superior robot.

Revolutionizing Robot Vacuum Navigation and Perception with Matic

Nariyawala, who collaborated with Dalal on Google’s Nest Cam IQ cameras and Nest Hello doorbell, highlights the main distinction. Matic constructs a 3D-powered, street-view-like map of your home. Coupled with on-device computer vision, this enables it to move around in a manner akin to a self-driving car guided by Google Maps.

In contrast to the common behavior of most robot vacuums, which often bump into chair legs or inspect shoes, Matic gracefully navigates around any clutter left on the floor. It seamlessly switches between vacuuming debris and mopping spills. Nariyawala asserts, “Hardware has never been the limiting factor for robots; it’s the intelligence, the capacity to map and navigate, to go from point A to point B with pinpoint accuracy. This is what we’ve achieved.

The Matic has a distinctive appearance, differing from the familiar circular robot vacuums. It features a square, low-profile white body with large wheels and an extending vacuum head, resembling Wall-E more than a Roomba. Dalal explained in a blog post that it achieves human-like perception and self-learning through cameras and Neural Networks, which power image recognition, decision-making, and 3D mapping.

This advanced understanding leads to a superior level of AI-based obstacle avoidance, as claimed by the company. Matic can navigate around any object in your home in real-time. While competitors like iRobot and Ecovacs also offer AI-powered obstacle avoidance, Nariyawala states that Matic surpasses them by identifying a broader range of items and categorizing them as dirt, non-dirt, or unknown, with the last two categories being avoided.

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