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History of Robot Vacuums


With robot vacuums becoming more advanced model after model, one may be curious about the history of these smart robotic vacuum cleaners and how they came to be. From the traditional upright vacuum cleaner to now robotic vacuums that make use of top-of-the-line technology, the humble vacuum has come a long way and greatly improved.

Let’s appreciate further the innovation and evolution of these smart cleaning home robots by getting to know their history.

Who Invented the Robot Vacuum Cleaner?

James Dizon invented the first robot vacuum cleaner for the Swedish tech company Electrolux in 1996. One can say that the Electrolux Trilobite robot vacuum was ahead of its time as it was seen more as a “novelty” than a household appliance mainly due to its hefty price.

Apart from the Electrolux robot vacuum cleaner being overtly expensive then, the technology used was also not as advanced, leading to faulty functions. Its sensors made it difficult for the robot vacuum cleaner to avoid obstacles, change direction, and clean small areas — particularly the tiny space between the wall and the floor.

When Were Smart Vacuum Cleaners Invented?

Smart robot vacuum cleaners were first invented in 1996 and have a long history of 25 years. However, robot vacuum cleaner manufacturers only started mass-producing these smart cleaning robots in 2001.

What is the Timeline for Robot Vacuum Cleaners?

History of Robot Vacuums

The first robotic vacuum cleaner made was the Electrolux Trilobite in 1996. Due to the technology available back then, this robot vacuum significantly differed from the smart cleaning robots we know today.

The Trilobite made use of ultrasonic sensors to help it detect dirty spots and avoid other objects. However, its tech was quite faulty as it was not able to do the job that well, which lead to infrared sensors and magnetic strips being introduced in the second generation of the Trilobite robot vacuum.

This helped the robot vacuum create invisible walls from falling down the stairs, preventing steep drops, and detecting any obstacle.

Seeing the potential of these smart cleaning devices, Dyson released the DC06 robot vacuum model in 2001. A year later, Colin Angle, the co-founder of iRobot, came into the picture by launching the iRobot Roomba line to the market. The iRobot Roomba swept the industry on a large scale with the introduction of the patented three-stage cleaning system of “side brush, rolling brush, and dust suction port”.

The spinning brushes and this process helped in vacuuming and mopping dirt from the floor, surface, hard floors, and even thicker carpets in any room of the house. The iRobot Roomba Pro was also introduced in 2002 and is regarded as the first commercially successful robotic vacuum cleaner despite Neato Robotics, Hoover, and Dyson Company releasing smart models that even used intercom systems and security cameras.

What Was the First Roomba Called?

History of Robot Vacuums

The Roomba was developed by iRobot, a company that was founded in 1990 for the development and manufacturing of military and domestic robots. It has come a long way from designing robots made for space travel and space exploration to now robots that would vacuum and mop the floor.

In 2002, the first domestic iRobot was debuted and named Roomba. By 2004, over a million Roombas had been sold and a year after, the Scooba was introduced as the robot mop cleaner counterpart.

Final Note

The history of the robot vacuum cleaner is truly rich and dates way back. One might think that these smart cleaning devices were manufactured only recently due to the high tech they used, but they have been helping clean homes for over 25 years now.

Truly, the robot vacuum has gone through a lot of changes and improvements since then. From still needing to be controlled manually to now being remote control compatible and more, we can only guess what the next upgrade will be for robotic vacuum cleaners.

Sota Takahashi

Sota Takahashi is a Japanese-born electrical engineer. At the age of 18, he moved to Seattle and completed his Electrical Engineering degree at the University of Washington, Seattle. Being a fan of all things tech, he channels his geeky side through this website, and with his wife Linda, shares knowledge about robot pets and how they can be lifelong and advantageous companions for both children and the elderly.

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