Today’s household robots don’t really look like what you see on TV and the movies. But they’re actually quite effective in cleaning your floors when you pick the right model. So how do these robotic vacuum cleaners really work? While it may spook your pets, many people understand the basic principles once it’s been laid out. After all, this is the age of smartphones and household programmable automation. While their basic work remains the same by siphoning off the dirt from the floor, these robotic versions have features that offer a lot more convenience.


In its most advanced versions, these robots sense the room and the objects around them. Remember the early versions which bumped into walls and objects? They vacuum cleaners then just either followed the wall or moved off obstacles into a new random direction. This time, you don’t get the bumps most of the time. So you don’t have to worry about flimsy tables and fragile glass objects falling to the floor. Inside these gadgets are sensors that emit an infrared beam so they can tell when there are objects along their path. These infrared sensors are so located at the bottom of the device, so it can avoid falling off the stairs.

In some cases, they even have a camera to help. The onboard computer collects the signals from these sensors so that the device can avoid them. As a backup, there’s also generally a built-in touch sensor along the side of the cleaner. So when it does touch something, it immediately stops and goes into a different direction. With these sensors, some devices are advanced enough to clean up whole floors with several different rooms. The onboard computer keeps track of where it has been so it can clean an area effectively.

With some models, you can also use accessories that define where a robot cannot enter. It’s like standing lamps that use infrared to wall off sections where a robot has to stay. You can do this so that the robot can concentrate on a single room first, or if there’s a room where you don’t want it to go for some reason. For example, it can be noisy, so if people are reading or studying in the library it can be prevented from going inside and disturbing people.


A robot of this type can also be programmed. Of course, there’s a button you can press so it can start anytime you feel like it. In some cases, a robotic vacuum cleaner may even be activated remotely. It may have its own remote controller, but the latest models now even allow you to control it by using an app and a smartphone.

Since it is programmable and it keeps time, you can program it to activate at a certain time every day. That helps when you live alone and you want it to clean your house while you’re not there. That means you can always come home to a clean house, and you’re also not around to be bothered by the noise. There’s even a bonus security advantage. If it makes enough noise, people from outside your apartment may think you’re home, and intruders and burglars may not want to risk going inside to steal your stuff.

What this means is that you don’t have to limit your cleanup to the weekends, and you’ll never have to endure the noise if you have a noisy gadget (some are quiet though). Every day you can get a clean floor to enjoy.


This is an especially useful feature, because the wires add a lot of complication to the cleanup. Can you imagine an automated vacuum cleaner with an electric cable? It’s not impossible that you’ll end up with the cable wrapping around a leg of the chair, and the vacuum cleaner can then pull the chair along. When you get home, you can arrive with a big mess to deal with.

Nope, it really must be battery-powered. At first, this is a problem, as vacuum cleaners require lots of power and they can drain battery very quickly. But some of these vacuum cleaners have improved their cleaning efficiency, so much so that they don’t need all that much time to clean a single room. So you can set it to clean a different room every day. In the most advanced versions, however, the robot can sense when they’re running out of power. They can then scoot back to their charging docket on their own thanks to their advanced navigation capabilities. Then once they’ve powered up, they can resume their cleaning duties.

Different Cleaning Modes

In some models, vacuum cleaners have become so advanced that they can even detect areas where it’s especially dirty or dusty. For example, the sensor can emit an electrical pulse that reflects to the sensor when they’ve hit upon a patch of dirt. When the sensor receives a lot of these electrical pulses, it then concludes that the area is dustier than usual. Usually, this means the robot will then slow down so it can clean the area more slowly and therefore more completely. Especially if u are looking for the best Robotic Vacuum for pet hair, u need to check out the different celaning modes.

In recent years, the sensors can even detect the difference between a hardwood floor and a carpet. When it detects that it’s on a carpet surface, it can then automatically boost its suction power to siphon the dirt more effectively from the carpet fibers.

Benefits of Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

In general, the main benefit of these robots is that they’re very easy to use. You basically just press a button or program it to activate itself at a certain time. Then it works by itself. Despite their circular design, they can even clean edges properly due to their extendable brushes.
For the most part, even the average robotic vacuum cleaners can keep the dirt levels down, so you still come home to a fairly clean room every day. And you won’t have to clean as much when you fire up the heavy-duty vacuum cleaner during the weekend.


For this section, it all depends on which model you get:

  • Some of these things can be very noisy, so it’s hard to enjoy watching the TV when your robot is vacuuming the floor.
  • Many of these units also don’t clean an area methodically, so it may take as much as half an hour to clean a room. If you’re in a hurry—someone you want to impress is on the way to your home—then you may want to do it manually.
  • In fact, in some cases they don’t really do a good job, especially when you get one of the cheaper models. Despite their navigational features, you may still need to keep watch over them because they’re not reliable. They may fall off the stairs, for example, or even miss some dirt. It’s why some consider this device a supplementary gadget that still can’t replace manually operated vacuum cleaner.
  • The battery limitations can also keep limit it to just one room at a time. The self-recharge and resume feature is not all that common among these robots. In some cases, the room it’s cleaning may even be too large for the robot, and it won’t be able to finish in a single charge. And after a while, a battery may need to be replaced, and that can be an expensive proposition.
  • Some units (but again, not all) may have special maintenance requirements. After all, these are very sophisticated devices.
  • The price is also a concern. While it’s possible to get a unit that costs only $100 or even lower, the features, reliability, and durability may not amount to much. On the other hand, some units even cost as much as $1,800—that’s a lot of money to spend on a vacuum cleaner.
  • Usage Limitations. The nice thing about a manual vacuum cleaner is that you can lift it up. So you can use it to clean all kinds of stuff in many places, such as the top of your couch. You can also move a drawer and clean the space behind it. With the robot, you’re limited to just the floor, and the furniture pieces stay where they are. So if there’s no clearance underneath a cabinet, then its underside remains dirty until you move it yourself.
  • Trash bin. This is also a universal limitation for robotic vacuum cleaners. So far, there’s no unit that can empty a trash bin on its own, so if that’s full then it can’t clean your floor effectively anymore. So every day, you have to empty it, and you can only clean your floor until the trash bag is full.


Despite the long list of drawbacks, in some cases it’s still a worthwhile purchase. For example, one of the more advanced Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners can do the job well enough that it can actually make your home tidy all by itself. They’re reliable, and durable, and the price is reasonable considering all the benefits you get.