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By way of BotJunkie comes this robot vacuum, the Dustbot, sold by Tomy in 1985. I’d never even heard of it. The broom and dustpan is not, apparently, how it does its job. That’s just for a little light entertainment while it attempts a little light vacuuming.

Tomy Vacuuming Dustbot Had Edge Sensors In 1985

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.


  • Kelcey

    Clever name. Definately a Japanese toy. So-G or souji means to clean.

  • John Egan

    Always liked robots as a kid. My wife bought the Dustbot for me many Xmases ago… Still works…. Unlike the battery on my Roomba…. jegan

  • Gareth Branwyn

    Wow, John. Do you know where she got it? Goes it actually work? Can you tell us more about it? What is the actual “vacuuming” method? It it a sweeper, like Roomba?

  • Evan Livingston

    Oh My, I had one of these when I was a kid. 10 years ago maybe. It did work a little bit, I believe it came from radioshack. The little broom went back and forth moving stuff to the center of the robot and then I think there was a cylindrical brush on the bottom which whirled dirt inside of it. I remember having to empty it at least. It was a little like those powerless vacuums in restaurants except it had batteries which always went dead.

  • Matt Jones

    I believe I still have mine squirreled away somewhere. Got it from radioshack back in the days of the super armatron and such. It had a little vacum in the bottom if I remember right- a little turbine drum would spin around and suck up light debris. the broom would just sort of scoot them back and forth and look cute. I cant exactly remember the edge avoidance system, but it was simple and mechanical. I could try and describe it as I remember it, but I think that’d just be more confusing. I’ll see if I can dig the little critter out and leave a description.

  • robotmonkeys.net

    It seems like RadioShack sold these as part of a 3 robot line up. The SO-G, The voice controlled Verbot (which I had), and a larger Omnibot 2000 (which I dreamed of having).