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How Do Self-Docking Robot Vacuums Find Their Docking Station?


One impressive feature of robot vacuums is self-automation. These robot vacuum cleaners can clean on their own, learn a floor plan on their own, and head to the charging station on their own after completing the programmed cleaning cycle.

Features such as the ones stated above are all possible because of the advanced technology that robot vacuums have. Let’s dig a little deeper into finding out how robot vacuums work and what specifically enables them to help find the charging station on their own

How Does a Robot Vacuum Know Where to Charge?

How Do Self Docking Robot Vacuums Find Their Docking Station?

The simple answer to this question is that robot vacuums find their charging station through navigation technology. Depending on the model of the robotic vacuum cleaner, the more advanced the navigation technology used. For this reason, there are robot vacuums that are more efficient and more expensive compared to other models.

Generally, all robot vacuums find the charging station thanks to the mapping navigation technology. A robot vacuum cleaner would map the room and floor layout to memorize the cleaning path and its way back to the base station. The efficiency and accuracy of the mapping technology used by a robot vacuum will depend on how advanced the model is.

Modern robot vacuums are equipped with basic sensors that will help them scan the floor and room. The sensors will also help them in preventing any collisions and drops to avoid any accidents while they are cleaning and vacuuming. The basic sensors used are infrared signals and infrared light.

When a robot vacuum has completed a cleaning cycle or starts running low on battery life, it will start to look for the infrared signal coming from the charging dock or base station. Said base station will have an infrared light that will help guide the robot vacuum’s infrared signal to automatically return and dock itself to the charging station — even at night time or in the dark.

On the other hand, higher-end robot vacuums will have even more advanced navigation technology. Aside from having infrared signals, they have LiDAR and vSLAM sensors to help create accurate maps of the room to help them navigate the layout, avoid obstacles, and ultimately find their way back to the charging station.

Depending on the sensor used, a robot vacuum of this caliber can also take photos of the home so it can create and memorize landmarks and floor plans even faster. Such is the case for entry-level or midrange robot vacuums where it will take more than one cleaning cycle for them to learn a floor plan.

Common Causes Why a Robot Vacuum Can’t Find the Charging Station

How Do Self Docking Robot Vacuums Find Their Docking Station?

In instances where the robot vacuum cannot find the base station, there are simple ways how to troubleshoot this.

There’s a tendency for the sensors of a robot vacuum to get dirty from all the cleaning it’s been doing. Make sure these are free from any dust or dirt that can block out the sensor from detecting the light from the base station. Cleaning these can be easily done with just a swipe of microfiber cloth.

Avoid moving the base station while the robot vacuum is in the process of cleaning. Since a robot vacuum works and navigates by memorizing the layout of a house, moving the station will automatically disrupt what it has learned from past cleaning sessions.

Lastly, make sure that no clutter, object, or furniture is blocking the base station or the signals of the robot vacuum and vice-versa. This can cause an obstacle for the robot vacuum and prevent it from reaching the base. This can also be an added issue if your robot vacuum is running low on battery power so it might not be able to reach the station on time to charge.

Final Note

How Do Self Docking Robot Vacuums Find Their Docking Station?

A robot vacuum has plenty of impressive features and one of which is its ability to navigate on its own to charge its battery and dock itself after a cleaning job. Even if you own an entry-level model or the best robot vacuum out there, these self-automated cleaners can find their way back on their own.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Self Docking Robot Vacuums Find Their Docking Station?

How does a Roomba vacuum robot find its dock?

A Roomba vacuum robot can find its dock thanks to the infrared signal that is being emitted by its charger. The Roomba will follow the signal and dock itself. If the Roomba robot vacuum was in the middle of a job, then it will resume the vacuum once it is fully charged.

However, most Roomba vacuum robot models have a self-emptying dock station you will need to purchase separately.

How do iRobot robotic vacuums know where to go?

iRobot robot vacuum models can navigate thanks to their iAdapt 3.0 Navigation Technology with Visual Localization. The S Series, I Series, J Series, and Braava Jet M series of the iRobot robot vacuum models are equipped with such navigation technology. Some of them also have Smart Maps.

This technology helps the iRobot robot vacuum models clean, vacuum, learn, and adapt to the environment they are in. This means they can go and vacuum from carpet to carpet and enter multiple rooms with differing layouts. They are also equipped with a camera to help identify and take snapshots of landmarks.

How does the EUFY RoboVac know where to go?

The EUFY Robot Vacuum makes use of integrated infrared light technology to help navigate the layout and space. Eufy makes use of “Bounce Technology” to also help the RoboVac detect obstacles and change direction if needed.

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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