How Do Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Work?

Carter Marcus
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Robots are usually some of the coolest things you can buy. They are pretty versatile and can do almost anything including vacuuming for you. But how do they do it? What makes robotic vacuum cleaners work?

The simple answer to this question is that robots use artificial intelligence and sensors to map their surroundings, and these enable them to maneuver around your house. They don’t perceive your home through touch like humans do; instead, they use remote sensors that have been positioned around your home or they see through a camera that is housed in the robot, and they use this information to create an internal map of your house.

This is extremely similar to how humans find their way around a new place. We don’t measure distances because we’ve been to that place before; instead, we recognize objects and spatial relationships. In much the same way, robots use their internal maps to send signals to the remote sensors so that the robot can maneuver to where it needs to go. Once the robot is in place, it cleans for approximately 30 minutes before returning to its docking station, and the cycle begins again.

There are four basic types of sensors that you’ll find on a robot vacuum cleaner

Each of these works to meet the different needs you might have for your robot vacuum cleaner. Some of them are more expensive than others.

Encoders or Optical Sensors

If your robot vacuum cleaner has encoders, they work at the end of a rotating arm to completely manipulate the movement of the unit. This is especially useful for robots that have a long hose that extends very quickly for cleaning big open areas of a home. The encoder senses the movement of the hose and calculates the path it needs to go to cover all of the ground.

If your robot vacuum cleaner doesn’t have this type of technology, it will usually have an optical sensor that uses infrared beams. As the robot vacuum cleaner goes along, it measures how far away objects or people are from its self-propelled section. This technology is particularly helpful for robot vacuum cleaners that are used in conjunction with a docking station.

IR Obstacle Detection