Robotic vacuum cleaner

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A TCM Reinigungsroboter (German cleaning robot)

A robotic vacuum cleaner, often called a roomba as a generic trademark, is an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner which has intelligent programming and a limited vacuum floor cleaning system. The original design included manual operation via remote control and a "self-drive" mode which allowed the machine to clean autonomously without human control. Some designs use spinning brushes to reach tight corners, and some include a number of cleaning features along with the vacuuming feature (mopping, UV sterilization, etc.).[citation needed]

An advantage of using a robotic vacuum cleaner is how quiet it is compared to a regular vacuum cleaner.[1] Also, they are seen as more convenient to use because they can vacuum on their own. Robotic vacuums can be kept under beds or desks or in closets, whereas a regular vacuum cleaner requires a larger amount of space. However, a downfall to a robotic vacuum cleaner is that it takes an extended amount of time to vacuum an area due to its size. They are also relatively expensive.[2]


Retrofuturistic illustration of an "electric scrubber" in the year 2000, as envisaged by an artist in 1899

In 1996, Electrolux introduced the first “Robotic Vacuum Cleaner”, the Electrolux Trilobite.[3] It worked well but had frequent problems with colliding with objects and stopping short of walls and other objects, as well as leaving small areas not cleaned.[3] As a result, it failed in the market and was discontinued.[3] In 1997, one of Electrolux's first versions of the Trilobite vacuum was featured on the BBC's science program, Tomorrow's World.[4]

In 2001, Dyson built and demonstrated a robot vacuum known as the DC06. However, due to its high price, it was never released to the market.[5]

In 1990, three robotists, Colin Angle, Helen Greiner, and Rodney Brooks, founded iRobot.[6] It was originally dedicated to making robots for military and domestic use. It launched the Roomba in 2002, which was able to change direction when it encountered an obstacle, detect dirty spots on the floor, and identify steep drops to keep it from falling down stairs.[3] The Roomba proved to be the first commercially successful robot vacuum.[7] In 2005, iRobot introduced the Scooba, which scrubbed hard floors.

In 2010, the Neato Robotics XV-11 robotic vacuum introduced laser based mapping, allowing navigation in straight lines rather than the traditional random navigation.[8]

In 2015, Dyson and iRobot both introduced camera based mapping.[9][10]

In 2016, iRobot CEO claimed that 20% of vacuum cleaners sales worldwide were robots.[11]

As of 2018, obstacles such as dog feces, cables and shoes remain very difficult for robots to navigate around.[12][13]

Main features[edit]

A cleaning robot as seen from below

Cleaning modes[edit]

Robotic vacuum has different types of cleaning modes, usually include the following:[14]

  • Auto: This mode is helpful for general cleaning. Usually, the mode cleans a space until the battery runs out.
  • Spot: with the help of this mode, the vacuum focus on a particular dirty zone.
  • Turbo: This mode is used to clean and pick up the most dirt and dust, but it may create noise.
  • Edge: This mode helps to clean edges & corners.
  • Quiet: The mode helps to reduce noise levels while cleaning. It's helpful when you are at home.
  • Remote control: It allows the user to control the direction of the vacuum.

Wet mopping[edit]

Some models can also mop for wet cleaning, autonomously vacuuming and wet-mopping a floor in one pass (sweep and mop combo).

A Robot Mop can tackle multi surfaces and comes with a variety of different cleaning modes giving you options of sweeping, vacuuming and mopping damp or wet floors. The Robot Mop score better on hard floors surface and are ideally suited for hardwood, laminate and tile flooring types


Most robots include anti-drop and anti-bump IR sensors.


When approaching obstacles, will automatically turn away.


Prevents the robot getting twined by wires.


A robot that can use laser to save a map for future cleaning programs

The first robovacs used random navigation. This sometimes caused the unit to miss spots when cleaning or be unable to locate its base station to recharge, and did not provide the user a history of which spaces were cleaned.

More sophisticated models include mapping ability. The unit can use gyro, camera, radar, and laser (laser distance sensor or LDS) guided systems to create a floor plan, which can be permanently stored for more efficiency, and updated with information on areas which have been (or have not been) cleaned. Thus, the cleaning efficiency is greatly improved and the repetition rate is reduced significantly.

Models with a multiple floor plan feature can store several floor plans.

Virtual No-Go lines[edit]

Virtual No-Go lines set boundaries, to restrict the unit's movements to desired cleaning areas.

Quick recharge[edit]

Most robot vacuums come with a Lithium ion battery of around 2000 mAh that will last long enough to handle approximately 200 m2 of floor space (about 100 minutes).

Regular charge time is 5 to 6 hours.

Quick recharge allows the unit to calculate the shortest way to recharge (shortcut path) and charge only as much as needed, so it finishes more quickly (automatic cleaning resumption).

D-shape vacuum cleaner


Scheduled daily cleaning. All-Timetable means a full week of different daily schedules can be programmed.

Connected app[edit]

Some models allow control of the unit using an app over a WiFi connection, from your smartphone or connected home automation device, e.g. Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant.

Software upgrades[edit]

Some units are able to receive over the air (OTA) firmware updates.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "10 Benefits of Owning a Robot Vacuum 2020". Best Robot Vacuums 2020. 2019-12-16. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  2. ^ "How Robotic Vacuums Work". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  3. ^ a b c d "Invention of Robotic Vacuum Cleaners". Vacuum Cleaner History. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
  4. ^ "BBC NEWS - Technology - Robot cleaner hits the shops".
  5. ^ Ulanoff, Lance. "Dyson Wants to Build a Robot Vacuum that Can See".
  6. ^ "the history of the roomba".
  7. ^ Bennett, Brian. "Why are iRobot's new Roombas so damn expensive?". CNET. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  8. ^ "Neato XV-11 robotic vacuum review". Engadget. August 24, 2010. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  9. ^ "Deluxe brand Dyson creates its first robot vacuum, the 360 Eye". 2014-09-04. Retrieved 2015-09-26.
  10. ^ "iRobot Brings Visual Mapping and Navigation to the Roomba 980". IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News. 16 Sep 2015. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  11. ^ "iRobot says 20 percent of the world's vacuums are now robots". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  12. ^ Solon, Olivia (2016-08-15). "Roomba creator responds to reports of 'poopocalypse': 'We see this a lot'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-17.
  13. ^ Bryan Heater (2017-12-06). "PerceptIn has raised $11 million to help robotic vacuums and self-driving cars see". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  14. ^ Jones, Andy. "10 best robot vacuum cleaners – how to pick between Dyson and Eureka". Retrieved 27 October 2020.

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