Robotic Vacuums: The Nuts and Bolts


Robotic vacuums are self-ruling, independent cleaners that are equipped with intelligent

programming allowing them to freely use their limited cleaning system in your home.

There are various types of robotic vacuum cleaners, also known as robovacs. Some robovac

designs include the use of spinning brushes whilst other designs incorporate cleaning features

such as mopping. This is simultaneous to the vacuuming therefore some machines are simply

more than just a vacuum cleaner.


As well as combining day to day domestic cleaning features within the robovac, some models

have been designed to house intercom systems and security cameras.

Now for a little bit of robotic history:


Swedish household and professional appliances manufacturer Electrolux was the first producer

of a robot cleaner called Electrolux Trilobite. In 1997, the Electrolux Trilobite was first seen on

BBC’s Tomorrow’s World. It was introduced as a sellable product in 2001.

Sir-James-DysonBritish technology company, Dyson, designed and built a robot vacuum known as the DC06. Due to the high price of this product, it was never released for the public to buy.


American technology company iRobot, presented their Roomba floor vacuuming robot in 2002.


iRobot produced 15,000 of these products with plans to create 10,000 more depending on their

success. By Christmas, iRobot produced 50,000 more just to meet the seasonal demands.

Dyson announced a comeback to the robotic vacuum scene in 2014 with the Dyson 360 Eye.

The ‘360’ part of the name refers to the 360 degree camera that is placed on the robot to provide

an improved orientation when cleaning. This robot vacuum is scheduled for a release in Japan

only, during the spring of 2015, however international launches are expected later on.


If these little vacuums are taking your fancy, British department store John Lewis sells two

versions of the iRobot Roomba’s.


iRobotThe iRobot Roomba 650 vacuum cleaner consists of a built in scheduler, cliff detect, dirt

detector, aerovac bin and a reserve filter. Roomba has a set of basic sensors that help it to

perform tasks, for example, changing direction, detecting dirty markings on the floor, avoiding

obstacles and a sense of when there may be a steep drop so there are no accidents with it falling

down the stairs.


The iRobot Roomba 780 features a scheduler, iAdapt, cliff detector, escape behaviour, multiple

room, full bin indicator, dirt detector series 2, HEPA-filter, aerovac bin series 2, remote control

and reserve brushes. The 780 clearly has more features and has developed significantly from the

650, hence the £200 price difference on the John Lewis website.


As an alternative from the iRobot brand, Samsung have created the Powerbot VR9000 which

according to Samsung, ‘conquers limitations of conventional robot vacuums.’

Samsung promote three key features on their VR9000:


  1. 60 times more powerful suction
  2. Large drum brush that covers a wider floor area without the use of side brushes whichmakes it less likely to get tangled up in wires and loose bits of carpet fabric
  3. Strong centrifugal force that circulates the dust particles and keeps the filter clean and lessens clogging over a period of time.


Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd have used laser guidance in their Powerbot VR9000 robotic

vacuum cleaners since 2014. Laser guidance improves the accuracy of the movements of the

robotic vacuum. Their main aim is to show goal positions to the robot by using laser projection.

Laser guidance is used also in computer vision and video games.

All sounds marvellous doesn’t it? A house proud person’s dream. No pushing and pulling around

a heavy clumsy hoover, simply turn on your robotic vacuum and let the robot do the work. But

are they worth the price tag that comes along with them?


It seems the internet has an array of mixed views and opinions when it comes to testing out

these mini creations. No wires, saves time, easy to work all seem to be good enough pros,

however even with many of their creators pushing the suction improvements, it seems people are

not as satisfied with the dust pick up in comparison to their trusty everyday handled hoovers.

Designing, creation and production still seem to be hanging in limbo at the moment, although

when manufacturers get it all right, which they will, perhaps they will be worth their price tag and

people won’t mind testing them out at that price.


Personally, I think I will stick to my normal vacuum, however that’s not to say I wouldn’t enjoy

watching a little robot doing the vacuuming for me, free of charge (if you can look past the initial



by Laura Gooderham