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Robot vacuums have come a long way since they were first introduced in 1996 by Electrolux. Back then, the main problem people had with most robot vacuums was poor navigation. Robot vacuums would often bump around furniture or accidentally make a nosedive down the stairs. Such is not the case anymore thanks to advancements in mapping technology and sensors, which enabled robot vacuums to effortlessly maneuver around objects, navigate an entire house, and find specific rooms so they may be able to clean effectively.
The accuracy of how robot vacuums navigate multiple rooms and the efficiency of how they can clean them greatly rely on how advanced the models are. High-end models will have innovatory sensors and mapping capabilities that will help them detect multiple rooms without running into many problems. However, this does entail a higher price tag that not everyone may be able to afford. While entry-level and mid-tier robot vacuum models can still navigate multiple rooms to a certain extent, the accuracy may be sacrificed in exchange for affordability.
Understandably, it’s still quite difficult to comprehend how robot vacuums can find multiple rooms and even map out an open floor plan without your hands-on guidance. Allow us to break down the technology and sensors that help a robot vacuum work and navigate semi-autonomously.
Similar to a regular vacuum, you would purchase a robot vacuum to clean multiple rooms. Otherwise, it wouldn’t make sense for you to purchase a robot vac if it can’t clean more than one room. The difference here lies in the ability of a robot vacuum to enter a room and start the cleaning job by itself while a regular vacuum cleaner cannot. With that said, a robot vacuum can enter more than one space and clean multiple rooms, but functionality and accuracy may differ depending on the model.
As all robot vacuums work using a navigation system, they can all find and go in multiple rooms to a certain degree. We say this because the mapping capabilities of robot vacuums differ from one another based on the technology and sensors they use. Additionally, the mapping technology and navigation methods robot vacuums use primarily categorize them into high-end, mid-tier, and entry-level models. Let’s take a look at the common technologies and methods that help most robot vacuums find multiple rooms accordingly.
A robot vacuum that makes use of LiDAR technology has laser sensors and light sensors to scan a room, set boundaries, and create a cleaning path that will lead to the route of multiple rooms. May it be your dining room to a long hallway, a LiDAR robot vacuum can find its way around in whatever floor plan and exit from one door to another with a level of high accuracy.
Using the light sensor, a LiDAR robot vacuum can gather information about a room. It can create visual data of both an open floor plan and multiple rooms with intricate interiors because of its advanced technology that can even be found in autonomous vehicles today. This information is stored by the robot vacuum so it can use as a reference in the future. It can even detect any obstacles along the way so it can avoid any collision, which is a huge deal if you tend to have a lot of things lying on the floor.
High-end robot vacuums tend to have LiDAR technology or a combination of LiDAR and vSLAM for high accuracy and precision. If your house has open floor plans and you would like to clean multiple rooms with different layouts, then you should consider purchasing a robot vacuum with this technology.
A robot vacuum that makes use of vSLAM technology has optical sensors to help scan an entire room and the objects inside it within view. The optical sensors in use can vary from a camera or an IMU.
When a robot vacuum has vSLAM technology, it makes use of an algorithm for object detection and room mapping. This allows the robot vacuum to create a 3D map of the space, setpoints, and establish virtual boundaries so it may navigate an entire home by memorizing routes to multiple rooms.
Mid-tier robot vacuums often make use of vSLAM technology since cameras are fairly less expensive than LiDAR lasers. However, this means that vSLAM robot vacuums are less accurate when finding and mapping a room compared to the former. Said robot vacuum may find it difficult to navigate itself in the same room if it has multiple entrances and more than one way of exiting. Fortunately, the robot vacuum will still have sensors that will help prevent it from bumping into chair legs or getting stuck between items.
Boundary strips assist robot vacuums in establishing cleaning zones and no-entry zones in your house. Through boundary strips, you can create a path that can help lead your robot vacuum to a specific room or multiple rooms all the while establishing strict areas where it cannot enter. Entry-level robot vacuums make use of boundary strips as this method must be done manually by a user. Here are the three kinds of boundary strips.
The most standard of all boundary strips is boundary tapes. These are tapes with a reflective coating, which you will have to cut and place around the house yourself. When a floor has boundary tape on it, then your robo vac will automatically detect this and program itself to not travel across it. If your robot vacuum is cleaning on the second floor and is near the stairs, then it is recommended that you place some boundary tape in the area where your vacuum may suffer a great fall down the first floor.
Similar to boundary tape, a boundary strip will be manually placed on the floor. Although they are generally more aesthetically pleasing to look at because they are less reflective, you are limited to the length they come in because they cannot be cut. If your room has floors that stretch out, then you can make use of boundary strips since you will need to lay them as is.
It’s also ideal to make use of boundary strips if your robot vacuum will be traveling a long distance from one room to another since you can lay it down across multiple floors at great lengths.
There are entry-level robot vacuums that can already detect virtual or digital boundaries. Although virtual boundaries must still be set up by the user, it at least can be done via a smartphone app. This method allows you to create a route on multiple floors so your robot vacuum can be guided on which room it can enter or must avoid in your house.
Mapping a house is a huge advantage if you want your robo vacuum to clean multiple rooms. It will allow your robo vacuum to know where the door is, the usual obstacles, learn the best route back to the docking station, and more. This ultimately makes for a more efficient cleaning session for your robo vacuum.
Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question yet. Much like how the ability of a robot vacuum to find a room differs because of the technology or method used, the time it takes to map a house will also vary depending on a few factors.
If your house is particularly large and you are mapping multiple rooms, then your robo vac may need a couple of days or 3-5 cleaning sessions to accurately learn the area. However, if the room sizes are small, then it can take as short as just one session for your robo vaccum to map the area even if you plan to clean multiple rooms.
The mapping tech that your robo vacuum has will affect how long it can scan and learn the area. If it makes use of advanced sensors, then it will generally be quicker in memorizing the layout of your home. However, mid-tier and entry-level robo vacuums will need more than one session so they can familiarize themselves with the place whether you plan to clean multiple rooms or the same spot.
Provided that you keep doors open and floors free of tricky obstacles like cords and even shoe strings, robo vacuums can find and clean multiple rooms on their own. Although, the level of intervention you will need to exert will differ depending on the mapping tech and navigation method your robo vacuum has.
Aside from these technologies and methods, factors such as battery life and others will affect your robo vacuum from finding and cleaning rooms. You can check out what these are in our ultimate robot vacuum buying guide.
Known to be robo vacs of all robo vacs, the iRobot Roomba has a lot of impressive models under its belt. All models have navigation technologies, but they are not necessarily equipped with the same ones.
For example, the Roomba i7+ is equipped with Google Assistant, which has a voice command feature where the user can give prompts on where it should clean. This is particularly useful if you see more dirt in one room and you want your robo vac to give it more focus. On the other hand, the Roomba 980 uses vSLAM so it can find rooms and navigate.
Cleaning multiple rooms can be done by most robo vacuums. They can even transition from cleaning multiple rooms to cleaning different floor types — from hard floors, tiles, and carpets. However, you will need to take into account the battery life of your robo vacuum. Generally, a robo vacuum has a battery life of 1 hour before it will need to go back to its charging station.