Vol. 1, Issue 3 -- December-January, 1996

Auto-Vac Design Team

by Jane Fee

Since the last issue of this newsletter, several interesting developments with the Auto-Vac have occurred.

The new redesigned docking station has been tested. It is now very easy to back the vacuum cleaner into the docking station for recharging. The docking station has an antenna on the top with a light on its tip which turns red when correct contact has been made during docking. When the antenna's light turns green it shows that the docking station itself has power to charge the vacuum cleaner. The reason for the antenna on the docking station is to be able to see at a distance whether or not you have correctly docked the vacuum and that it in fact, is recharging. When the Auto-Vac is recharging it is in a passive mode. This means that the vacuum is off, but it has a small amount of current flowing into the batteries to recharge them.

The home evaluation has been done by one member of the design team so far. This design team member was chosen to evaluate the Auto-Vac first because she owns 5 dogs. Some difficulties arose during the home testing and these difficulties have been/are being corrected by the rehabilitation engineers that are on the Auto-Vac team. The difficulties were lightening strikes and the power head rotation. During this team member's home evaluation there was a lightening storm.The Auto-Vac was at the docking station when the lightening strikes began and with each strike the vacuum would either turn itself on and move away from the docking station or turn itself off where ever it was in the room. The other difficulty was that the power brush was not rotating fast enough and so was not picking up the dog hair very well.

To correct these difficulties the design team engineers took the Auto-Vac apart. In order to counter the lightening strikes or any power surge, the vacuum was more heavily shielded and new radio controls were installed. This seems to have solved that peculiar problem. In order to solve the problem of the power head brush a larger motor is needed in the power head. The team engineers are now looking for an appropriate motor for the power head.

A second prototype is now being built to show to perspective manufacturers. If a manufacturer is found, the hope is to have the Auto-Vac commercially produced.

For more information, check out the Auto-Vac Design Team Home Page.