How Does a Robot Vacuum Work

When it comes to cleaning your house, there are two types of people – you could be like me who vacuums the house when parents come visiting or like my friend Sharon, who vacuums every nook and cranny of her house every week with due diligence.

But the idea of a robotic vacuum cleaner would sound very appealing to either of us because it would require very little human effort.

But with so many robotic vacuum cleaners in the market, it is very difficult to find the right one for you. So let’s find out how to look for the perfect one for your home.

What Exactly Is a Robot Vacuum?

Roomba i7

A robot vacuum is not much different from a conventional vacuum cleaner in the sense that it essentially performs the same function, but a bit more smartly and without much user interference (apart from the initial programming).

And for its diminutive size, it has enough brains to adapt to its environment.

How Does a Robot Vacuum Work?

The programming mentioned above can be done via an app, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, depending on whether you are at home or away.

A robot vacuum is a battery-operated, hands-free computerised machine that is designed to guide itself around your house, picking up dirt efficiently with vacuum and spinning brushes.

To move around, robot vacuums have castor wheels and two drive wheels.

A brush mounted on the side pushes the dirt underneath the machine, whereas a powerful motor helps suction it and put it away in a filtered dustbin.

There is a small water tank attached to the robot vacuum, which dispenses water to a microfibre cloth, and your floor is mopped back and forth removing grime and smudges from the floor.

There are a number of built-in sensors for the robot vacuum to move and navigate around obstacles such as furniture and corners.

The docking station, or the “homing beacon” as it is called sometimes (because of a light beam it projects which is used by the robot vacuum to home in and come back for a charge if the batteries are about to run out) should be placed in a open area for the robot to operate freely around it.

Why Should I Buy a Robot Vacuum?

Three Robot Vacuum Cleaners

In simple words, save labour costs and time!

Why would you want to manually bend to do all the cleaning when an automated machine can do it for you effortlessly?

Using the robot vacuum is as easy as pushing a button and seeing the robot go to work.

And if you remember them as rather “daft” machines that only work in a straight line, you would be in for a surprise.

The new versions of robot vacuums not only work tirelessly to keep your house clean, but also “remember” the layout, empty out the dust-filled bin, and then find their way back to the charging dock!

Sometimes, the robot cleaner will also “call out” to you once the work is done.

This is a far cry from earlier models that you would have to track down once it had done its job and then taken back manually to the charging point.

Another advantage of these scientific marvels is that they clean thoroughly without differentiating between the type of dust or grime you may have like a human cleaner would do, and clean tough to reach areas with ease.

These areas may include under the sofa, cabinets or the bed. Also, the robot vacuum cleaner is so easy to use that it can be operated by kids and the elderly as well.

What Should I Be Looking for in a Robot Vacuum?

Avoiding Obstacles

Robot Vacuum Avoiding Steps

The most ideal situation for a robot vacuum to work would be a house with minimalist furniture and bare fittings.

But since we don’t live in a utopic world, and moving furniture around every time you need to clean the house is not feasible, it is important for your robot to be able to sense and avoid hurdles such as chairs, sofas, beds or edges.

For this very purpose, as I mentioned earlier, the robot vacuums are fitted with any numbers of sensors such as a gyro sensor, cliff sensor, collision sensor or a laser distance sensor to name a few.

Using these sensors, the robot can move and navigate around your house without bumping into things and halting operations.

So if your house has many obstacles and hurdles, this should be a top feature.

Controllable Via Wi-Fi

This is a very useful feature if you are often out of the house.

You can control the robot through a customised app installed on your tablet or a smartphone to start, stop or pause operations and even take photos and get updates.

This way, you can direct your robot to start cleaning your house when you start from work and find your house clean and dust-free.


To improve the cleaning efficiency, the modern-day robots use powerful algorithms to categorise your house into specific cleaning zones.

The algorithm acts as a guide to the robot to lead it around obstacles for a thorough cleanup.

The robot works on a GPS memory, which means if the robot “feels” it needs to recharge at a particular spot (while cleaning), it will return to the exact spot when it is fully charged.

Charges Itself

Robot Vacuum Cleaner Going on Charger

Like I mentioned earlier in the article, older models of robot cleaners were not so intelligent and you would have had to go on a “rescue operation” to locate it if the battery ran off mid-cleaning.

The modern robots can “sense” that they are close to running out of “juice” and return to the charging dock, also sometimes lovingly referred to as the “mothership” for powering up.

It is quite a handy feature if you have a large house.

Cleaning Modes

There are three to four cleaning modes that a robot vacuum cleaner can offer you:

  • Automatic: This is the default setting, and the robot does not use a navigation pattern and goes around your house randomly, sometimes going around the same spot more than once. It is okay if you have a small room, but for a large house, some spots may remain uncleaned.
  • Edge Cleaning: As the name suggests, the robot cleans up the area around the edges which are hard to reach.
  • Zig-zag Cleaning: The robot moves around in an S-shape, hence cleaning the room thoroughly and efficiently.
  • Spot-Cleaning: The robot spins around in circular or spiral patterns and can be directed to clean a particular spot where milk or other stuff may have spilled and has left a tough-to-clean smudge.

Read More: Are cheaper robot vacuums any good?


If you are someone who finds vacuum cleaning a chore or have a lifestyle that does not leave room for daily cleaning.

It works wonderfully for those who have allergies, especially the ones who are sensitive to dust.

A robot vacuum is a convenient way to keep your house with the least effort involved.