Robots vacuum cleaners make light of household chores, but still need emptying by humans



Roomba by I-Robot


I-Robot's Roomba was introduced in 2002. As of Feb 2014, over 10 million units have been sold worldwide. Roomba features a set of basic sensors that help it perform tasks. For instance, the Roomba is able to change direction on encountering obstacles, to detect dirty spots on the floor, and to sense steep drops to keep it from falling down stairs. It uses two independently operating wheels that allow 360 turns in place. Additionally, it can adapt to perform other more creative tasks using an embedded computer in conjunction with the Roomba Open Interface.

Unlike the Electrolux Trilobite vacuuming robots, Roombas do not map out the rooms they are cleaning. Instead, iRobot developed a technology called iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology. Roombas rely on a few simple algorithms such as spiral cleaning (spiraling), room crossing, wall-following and random walk angle-changing after bumping into an object or wall. This design is based on MIT researcher and iRobot CTO Rodney Brooks's philosophy that robots should be like insects, equipped with simple control mechanisms tuned to their environments. The result is that although Roombas are effective at cleaning rooms, they take several times longer to do the job than a person would. The Roomba may cover some areas many times, and other areas only once or twice. The virtual wall accessories project beams which the Roomba will not cross.



A robotic vacuum cleaner, often called a robovac, is an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner that has intelligent programming and a limited vacuum cleaning system. Some designs use spinning brushes to reach tight corners. Others combine a number of cleaning features (mopping, UV sterilization, etc.) simultaneous to vacuuming, thus rendering the machine into more than just a robot "vacuum" cleaner.

Robotic vacuums may be part of a more general purpose domestic robot. For example, some models integrate security cameras, intercom systems and other features. There can also be general caretaker service robots that have the ability to perform other basic housework tasks such as moving items, preparing food, and other cleaning in addition to vacuuming.


The first robot cleaner to be put into production was Electrolux Trilobite by the Swedish household and professional appliances manufacturer, Electrolux. In 1997, one of Electrolux's first versions of the Trilobite vacuum was featured on the BBC's science program, Tomorrow's World.

In 2001, the British technology company, Dyson (company) built and demonstrated a robot vacuum known as the DC06. However, due to its high price, it was never released to the market.

In 2002, the American advanced technology company, iRobot launched the Roomba floor vacuuming robot. Initially, iRobot decided to produce 15,000 units and 10,000 more units depending on the success of the launch. The Roomba immediately became a huge consumer sensation. By the Christmas season, iRobot produced 50,000 units to meet the holiday demand. After this success, major specialty retailers as well as more than 4,000 outlets such as Target, Kohl's and Linens 'n Things began to carry the Roomba.

Since 2002, new variations of robotic vacuum cleaners have appeared in the market. For example, the Canadian bObsweep robotic vacuum that both mops and vacuums, or the Neato Robotics XV-11 robotic vacuum, which uses laser-vision rather than the traditional ultrasound based models.   Robotic swarm room cleaner


LEFT - The Electrolux Trilobite is a robotic vacuum cleaner from the famous Swedish domestic consumer company. The prototype cleaner was first seen on the BBC television programme, "Tomorrow's World", in 1997, when it was demonstrated by presenter Philippa Forrester. It was the world's first commercially available autonomous vacuum cleaner, introduced as a product in 2001.

The Trilobite contains a vacuum cleaner and a removable roller brush capable of working on deep-pile carpet. It has the ability to map rooms and avoid obstacles by using ultrasonic sensors (on the Mark 2 model also infrared). It recharges itself on a charging base, which it automatically finds when it has completed its cleaning task or its power runs low. The Trilobite will indicate when the dustbin needs to be emptied. Its ultrasonic sensors allow it to come within 1" of objects without colliding with them.


RIGHT - Flying mini-robot cleaners win Electrolux Design Lab 2013 Contest. Stefano Marzano, Chief Design Officer at Electrolux and Head of Jury is quoted as saying: This years winning concept renews the idea of looking at the robot, seeing it not as one unit that mimics a person, but instead as something inspired by the magical logic of natures collaborative efforts and group intelligence. The Mab is an innovative concept which could be relevant to minimize the daily cleanings efforts of consumers as well as businesses, while maximizing the results





British engineering company Dyson has announced its first robot vacuum cleaner at an event in Tokyo. The Dyson 360 Eye joins a crowded market - Hoover, iRobot, Samsung, Neato and Vileda are among other manufacturers to sell such products.

But the Cotswolds-based company says its machine has more powerful suction and should be better at spotting dirt thanks to a "unique" camera system. One expert said the claims sounded "quite compelling".

"If it works as well as Dyson says it does, then this could be the robot vacuum cleaner to get mainstream market penetration, and not just be a niche product," said Will Findlater, who covers technology for Stuff magazine. "Up until this point robot vacuums have been objects of geek affection.

"Certainly our experience of the competitors has been that they may do more on the robotics side of things than they do on the rather important business of cleaning your floors."

The machine is due to go on sale in Japan in the first three months of 2015, and then elsewhere later in the year.

Dyson previously showed off another robot vacuum cleaner - the DC06 - in 2001, but cancelled the project a few years later, in part because it would have cost consumers $3,000 (1,820) or more. It has yet to announce the price of the new model.

According to Dyson, most other robot vacuums use "weak, inefficient motors" in order to conserve battery life.

By contrast, it uses the same V2 digital motor found in its other handheld vacuum cleaners, and combines it with a brush bar that covers the full width of the machine, rather than relying on side sweepers.

"We've been developing for a number of years some of the smallest and most powerful digital motors available, and getting that right has enabled us to give the machine very powerful suction, so it can have a very high performance clean,"
Nick Schneider, a design engineer at the company, told the BBC.

"In addition we've developed a vision system that enables the machine to be very methodical in its clean and not miss sections of floor space."

The vacuum is fitted with a panoramic lens, which sits on top of a camera that captures 360-degree views at 30 frames a second. This is combined with data from infrared sensors to let the machine's internal computer make sense of its position and surroundings.

Another innovation is the ability to schedule a clean remotely via an Android or iOS app.

Although other robot vacuums tend to have less suction power than human-directed vacuums, they make up for this by taking several passes at each room. So, it remains to be seen if Dyson's model actually leaves owners with cleaner homes.

Mr Schneider also acknowledged that the new machine remained less powerful than his company's plug-in-and-push models, meaning it would take longer to do a big clean. But he said it might still be the preferable option for families with a house layout that suited the automated tech.

"We're a way off in terms of comparing it to our corded machines," he said.

"But the benefit that it has is that you don't have to be there to use it. "So, perhaps even if the performance isn't quite what you'd expect from a DC41 [full-size upright vacuum], the benefit of the convenience of just being able to set it whenever, and not having to worry about it, I think, is its real appeal."

Dyson's robot vacuum competitors are not resting on their laurels. American firm Moneual has a new model that adds a wet mop to help clean hard floors.

Samsung's latest release allows owners to steer it to dirty spots by shining a laser pointer on the ground, which it then trundles towards.

LG's newest machine can send photos of its surroundings to its owner's smartphone, allowing them to check if its done its job properly and order another pass if not.

And Toshiba's Torneo Robo empties the dirt its gathers into its dock, allowing it to keep working without human intervention for extended periods of time.



THE WORLD'S LARGEST VACUUM CLEANER - The above is a proposed trimaran test rig, using the above off-the-shelf components, just to get a feel for the concept. This is in no way a complete solution, but then we have to start somewhere. What we learn from these small scale experiments, could eventually help us to formulate a dual purpose, ocean capable cruiser, to clean up the English Channel and local harbors, with a view to cleaning up the marine environment and improving the quality of beaches and locally caught fish, etc. Full size, this autonomous vessel could harvest up to 50 tons of plastic, before it needs to offload. How many Electrolux vacuum cleaners would 50 tons make?





A robotic vacuum cleaner is an autonomous robot machine that has intelligent programming and usually, a restricted cleaning capacity. Some designs combine a number of cleaning features (mopping, UV sterilization, etc.) simultaneous to vacuuming, thus rendering the machine into more than just a robot "vacuum" cleaner.


Abitelax AJC-32J

ANABAS SZ-200,SZ-300,SZ-350


CCP Laqulito



Electrolux Trilobite

Figra F.Robo clean

Fuji and Sumitomo Office area cleaning robot system

Iris Ohyama RBC-28

Krcher RC3000


LG Roboking

Neato XV-11

Orazio (vacuum cleaner)



Sun Ruck I YOU SR-RC01R


Three up MOPPY


Tsukamoto Aim ecomo AIM-ROBO1








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Operating Time (min) 60 100 60 120 60 60 40 60 120 120 120
Charging Time (min) 150.0000 180.0000 210.0000 180.0000 150.0000 150.0000 180.0000 150.0000 180.0000 120.0000 120.0000
Room Coverage 5.0000 3.0000 2.0000 5.0000 5.0000 5.0000 4.0000 5.0000 5.0000 4.0000 4.0000
Dust Bin Capacity (ml) 660 700 300 500 660 660 0 660 500 550 550
Sound Level (db) 70 60 70 60 70 70 60 70 60 70 70


Cleaning Cloths No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes
Side Brush 0 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 2 2
Continues Cleaning Once Re-Charged Yes No No No Yes Yes No Yes No No No
Full Bin Indicator Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes No No
Collision Detection Bumper Light Touch Bumper Bumper Light Touch Bumper Bumper Bumper Bumper Bumper Light Touch Bumper Obstacle Sensor Obstacle Sensor
Room Differentiation RPS and Boundary Markers Boundary Markers None Lighthouse Technology RPS and Boundary Markers RPS and Boundary Markers Virtual Guard RPS and Boundary Markers Lighthouse Technology None None
Scheduling Onboard Onboard Onboard Onboard Onboard Onboard N/A Onboard Onboard Delayed/Deferred Cleaning Delayed/Deferred Cleaning
Self-Charging Base Included Included Included Included Included Included N/A Included Included Included Included
Remote Control N/A Included Included Included N/A N/A N/A N/A Included Included Included
Odor Removal No No Yes No No No No No No No No
UV Light Disinfection No No Yes No No No No No No No No


Virtual Walls 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 0 2 0 0
Extra Filters 0 0 2 3 0 0 N/A 1 2 60 60
Extra Brushes 0 0 0 7 1 0 N/A 1 3 0 0


Height (cm) 10.1 9.6 9 9.2 10.1 10.1 9.1 10.1 9.2 9 9
Diameter (cm) 33 33.6 35 35 33 33 37.6 33 35 35 35
Weight (kg) 5 3 3 3.85 5 5 3.9 5 3.85 2.8 2.8

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