Robot Vacuum Technologies and Features (Avoidance Technology, Mapping Technology, Cleaning Features)

Vacuum robot cleaners come with standard and additional features and technology. Here is a rundown of the different types of technology and features you can expect in a robotic vac.

  • Avoidance technology

This is one of the standard features in robot floor cleaners which are a system of sensors on it’s body which helps it avoid barriers. They typically include these two avoidance technologies:

  • Bumpers

They are usually padded on the front side of the device and recognizes when it hits an object to let it know it has to move in another direction. It has mechanical sensors which get activated only when it physically hits something. Though these sensors are cheap, there are effective versions which come with mapping technology.

  • Cliff sensors

Practically all automatic vacs have cliff sensors on its underbelly near the front and sometimes near the back end too. They are usually optical sensors which determine height and how far it’s from the nearest surface.

If the robovac senses it’s going to go over a ‘cliff’ like stairs, a switch makes it immediately go into reverse. Most automatic vacs have cliff sensors tuned to a few inches so that it traverses over small bumps but avoids falls down stairs.

There are some additional sensors you may find like infrared sensors which determine which objects should be avoided in a room and digital and infrared cameras which take photos of the room with the same objective. There are high-end units with ultrasonic frequency technology used for mapping rooms to avoid objects.

  • Mapping technology

Mapping technology is used with avoidance technology in robotic floor cleaners but it does not exist in all models, especially the cheap robot cleaners. There is however some benefits to buying a robovac with mapping technology like more efficient and advanced cleaning routines and better avoidance of objects.

Mapping technology is a combination of hardware and software where hardware used for mapping the room is similar as those used in object avoidance. It’s the software which creates digital maps of the room so that it creates patterns and remembers its layout. The maps are updated or renewed if any changes are made to the room’s layout. Of course, these units with mapping technology are more expensive.

Vacuum robots use two methods for mapping technology with their individual differences and overall effect:

  1. Laser mapping 

While this is relatively effective, shadows hamper its functioning and it may not clearly indicate obstacles. They are also not very accurate about the size and distance from other objects in the room.

  1. 2. Digital camera or visual mapping

Digital cameras using digital visual mapping are more expensive but they do provide the device with real-life positioning using VSLAM or Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping technology.

This technology lets the robovac use real, digital images to keep track of its whereabouts and map new terrain. They thus avoid obstacles better, remember where it has traversed and sweeps quickly and efficiently.

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