Probably the best known navigation system is iRobot operating system, which uses cameras to identify obstacles, navigate your home, and create personalized cleaning routines. However, it is important to note here that the software itself does not identify obstacles. Companies still use humans to train the AI in their software. If letting strangers watch camera footage in a robot that can be remotely controlled and navigated inside your home sounds like a bad idea…yes, that sounds like a bad idea to us, too.
Companies like Ecovacs are promoting an on-board camera like a home walkie-talkie, and be sure to include relevant third-party security certifications. Nevertheless, the risks do not seem to be worth it. I wish there weren’t pictures of my ass to protect in the first place.
Fortunately, many companies still use lidar and other navigational systems. So far, I’ve found that laser mapping is still relatively fast and accurate, even compared to stereoscopic mapping. Check the navigation system before buying; for example, despite its name, Shark’s AI Ultra (8/10, WIRED recommends) worked great and doesn’t have an onboard camera.
Do a mapping run
You get a robot vacuum to save time, so why can’t you just unbox it and turn it on? One of the reasons I love using a robot vacuum is that it also teaches me how to clean my house. It takes time for you and the robot vacuum to figure out what potential pitfalls in your home will be for the traveling machine.
If you’ve opted for a robot vacuum with mapping capabilities, it usually gives you the ability to perform quick mapping without cleaning. It may seem like a waste, but it saves time in the long run. Use the mapping run to take a quick walk around your house and look for dangling shoelaces, wired headphones, or any long string or bangs that will trigger the smartest robot vacuum.
Many robots, like the Roborock S6 Max V, have advanced object detection capabilities that will allow them to identify obstacles if you live in a home with pets or kids that might, uh, leave nasty surprises on the floor. The more you and your personal robot vacuum get to know each other, the better.
And turn on your lights. Your robot probably has optical sensors, which require ambient light to operate. If you find that your vacuum gets stuck often, don’t schedule your cleanings at night. Try 9 a.m., right after you leave for work (unless you’re work from home). If you have a dog, cleaning up right after you leave will also give your pup less time to have an accident on the floor. If you’re still having navigation issues, try wiping the optical sensors with a soft cloth.
Empty the trash
Yes, unfortunately a robot that regularly digs in the filthiest corners of your home will need a bit of routine maintenance. More than a few people have complained to me that their robot vacuum doesn’t work and just drags dirt around. If you find yours doing this, your robot probably needs some routine maintenance.
The dust container of a robot vacuum cleaner is quite small. Most robot vacuums have a bin size of around 0.6 litres. The dust bin of my Dyson ball vacuum cleaner is double, and I still need to empty it from room to room. I should note here that iRobot is still the only manufacturer to make a self-emptying vacuum with a bin sensor, so the robot knows to empty when it’s full.