The robot vacuum cleaner, a newcomer to vacuum cleaners, generates many questions.
This article describes the principle of operation of new generation robot vacuum cleaners, capable of vacuuming dirt from the floors autonomously.
Current robot vacuum cleaners come in the form of discs about 35cm in diameter and 10cm in height.
Robot vacuums are capable of cleaning all types of floors. The cleaning is carried out thanks to a suction combined with rotating brushes which seek the dust in depth.
Side rotating brushes bring the dust up to the main brushes, which lift the dust from the floor. A suction then sends the dust into the tank.
Robot vacuum cleaners don’t have bags, but a plastic tank that needs to be emptied regularly. The side brushes are designed to pick up dust right into the corners.
Does robotic vacuum cleaner work?
The rotating side brush brings the dust towards the brushes in the center of the vacuum cleaner. This allows the robot to clean along walls and in corners despite its rounded shape.
The 2 central brushes (main brush and auxiliary brush) lift the dust which is then brought back to the tank.
A 30 W motor powers the suction and the rotation of the brushes.
For Neato Vacuum
A main rotating brush loosens the dust from the floor.
Powerful suction (for a robot vacuum) sends the dust to the tank.
Neato vacuums are particularly effective on carpets and rugs, thanks to the more powerful suction than other robot vacuums.
On the other hand, they tend to leave dust in the corners and along the walls because of the absence of a side brush.
The mode of operation of a robot vacuum cleaner is therefore closer to a broom than to a conventional vacuum cleaner, but its brushes make it effective even on rugs and carpets.
Thanks to its small size (only 10 cm high), a robot vacuum cleaner is able to go under low furniture and beds, to clean places that are difficult to reach for a canister vacuum cleaner.
Robot vacuums are able to pass over small obstacles, such as carpets less than 1 cm high.
Tip: Robot vacuums are great for regular floor cleaning, but they’re not suitable for quick cleaning of heavily soiled floors, such as flour or crumbs spilled on the floor. For these emergencies, a conventional vacuum cleaner will be much more effective.
Trajectory of a randomly moving robot vacuum cleaner
Robot vacuum cleaners have several cleaning modes : at least a standard mode which consists of cleaning the entire accessible surface by following the algorithm of movement of the vacuum cleaner, and a “spot” mode to clean more particularly a specific area.
For the most common mode of operation, robot vacuums move randomly , following a pre-programmed protocol. Built-in algorithms combine spiral movements, wall following, and obstacle avoidance. This solution is not perfect, since the robot vacuum cleaner goes over the same place several times, but it can be adapted to any situation.
Some of the best robot vacuum cleaners for pet hair have a camera on the top that sees the ceiling and allows them to “map” the room where they are to better organize their movements. These vacuums are capable of cleaning a larger area before returning to their base. Others use a laser to observe their surroundings, then move methodically following the same principle.
On –board sensors, infrared (remote sensors) or tactile (bumper), allow the robot vacuum cleaner to automatically change direction when an obstacle is encountered. As the robot slows down when approaching obstacles, there is no risk of damaging walls or furniture.
Cliff sensors detect stairs to prevent falls.
Thanks to their flat shape (less than 11 cm high) they are able to pass under certain pieces of furniture such as beds which are difficult to clean with a conventional vacuum cleaner.
Virtual walls provided make it possible to prohibit access to certain areas, or to force the robot vacuum cleaner to clean the rooms one after the other to avoid unnecessary round trips.
The best robot vacuum for thick carpets are wireless: they run on battery power, and must return to their charging base when their battery is empty. Some models are able to automatically return to their base when unloaded and then resume work where they left off. With an autonomy ranging from 1h30 to 2h, current robot vacuum cleaners are capable of cleaning surfaces ranging from 80 m² to 150 m² depending on the efficiency of their movement system.
The tank must be emptied after each use
A robot vacuum requires regular maintenance to operate efficiently.
The dust tank , of small volume (less than 1L), should preferably be emptied after each session.
The brushes (main and side) as well as the filters should be cleaned about once a week, and more often if your robot vacuum picks up long hair or pet hair that can get caught in the rotating brushes. Filters can either be run under water and air dried or replaced. Also check regularly that nothing is impeding the rotation of the wheels of your robot vacuum cleaner.
Finally, don’t forget to wipe the sensors of your robot vacuum cleaner from time to time to avoid navigation problems.
Before turning on your robot vacuum cleaner, you can prepare the ground to facilitate its work:
Pick up objects lying around on the floor, and anything that could get stuck in the brushes of the robot vacuum cleaner.
Be careful of electrical cords which can get tangled in the brushes. Even if the most recent robot vacuum cleaners have automatic disentangling systems, it is not yet perfect. If you have fringed rugs, you can also fold the fringes under the rug to avoid taking risks.