What is a Robot Vacuum Cleaner?
A robot vacuum cleaner does exactly what you are thinking - it vacuums. Unlike your conventional vacuum cleaner however, this one is slightly different... it's smart. "Intelligence" in this case does not mean it has the capacity of a human; it simply does what you need it to do without any human input or control and is able to adapt to its surroundings.
A robot vacuum cleaner will vacuum your hard floors and carpets and keep the dirt in a bin to be emptied later. When it has finished, many robot vacuums are capable of finding and settling on their docking station or alternative, "speaks" to you to inform you that it is done cleaning.
What does it look like?
Most robot vacuum cleaners like Roomba and Infinuvo Cleanmate are circular, str 3 to 4 inches high and roughly 12 inches in diameter. On the top of most units you will find the control panel with one or two buttons, though others may have several. Some models have an LCD monitor the robot's status and help you with visual feedback when providing your robot with cleaning instructions. On the front of many robotic vacuums is a half moon shaped spring-loaded or light touch bumper depending on the brand and model. The bumper serves as a sensor for obstacles (walls, furniture, etc.).
Most robotic vacuum models move around using two drive wheels and a third non-driven caster wheel. You will also notice a variety of sensors underneath and inside the robot that provide the robot with feedback about its environment (such as detecting stairs or cliffs, the distance it has travelled) and even the status of its electronics.
How does a Robot vacuum cleaner work?
When not in use, a robot would sit quietly on its docking station, which most of them have. Keep in mind to place the robot and the docking station in a open, accessible area; avoid closets or other cramped spaces as they make it very difficult for your robot vacuum cleaner to navigate away and back to the station. The docking station has one main function: to charge the batteries in between cleaning cycles. How does the robot find its way back to the station you might ask? The station casts a light beam to a distance of about 6 feet in a "V" shape which serves as a beacon. During the cleaning cycle, if the robot vacuum senses the light beam, it steers clear of the docking station. Once the cycle is complete or the battery runs down, the robot uses the light beam to happily head home to its docking station. Robot owners without a docking station may manually connect the vacuum to an outlet for charging using the power supply unit provided with the robot.
On the scheduled days and time(s), the robot vacuum cleaner leaves the station to set about cleaning. It will not return until the cleaning cycle is complete or its battery runs low. In the event of a battery run-down prior to completing the cleaning cycle, the robot will abort the cleaning cycle and find its way back to station as directly as possible. The schedule is embedded in the robot's program memory. A simple button sequence allows you to set your preferred schedule.
Finding its way around: Navigation
There is no need to sit around while your robot vacuum performs a cleaning cycle; the robot navigates the rooms based on 4 to 5 cleaning modes. For example, the robot vacuum cleaner can clean based on a circular or spiral shaped pattern to cover the entire area. Other modes include wall- following to the center of the room, zigzagging, criss-crossing in diagonals, and more. The Roomba vacuum cleaner is different than many other brands as it gets a little help from virtual walls and/or lighthouses. Virtual walls are included with some models and can be sold separately. This unit sends out an infrared light beam that serves as a gate or virtual wall. When the Robot Vacuum senses the light signal, the unit changes direction to avoid the zone. Lighthouses also feature the infrared light beam like the virtual wall, but is are also equipped with a radio-frequency technology designed to help your robot vacuum cleaner to self position and improve cleaning efficiency. Simply put, lighthouses are beacon-like units that allow the robot to self position and navigate its way back to the docking station, just like ships on the ocean use lighthouses to avoid rocky collisions with the coast and get safely back to port. Infinuvo CleanMate vacuums by Metapo simply rely on its navigation ability as virtual walls and lighthouses are note available.
What are the limitations?
A robot vacuum cleaner will not act as a moderator or get involved in home or office disputes, although they can help by taking away the hassle of vacuum cleaning! They might improve your social life in many ways. Imagine impressing your guests with your robot vacuum cleaner by scheduling a cleaning cycle while you share appetizers and drinks.
Here are some important limitations:
Keep in mind that robot vacuum cleaners are designed to vacuum floors and carpets. They are not engineered for washing floors. A floor washing robot called Scooba has already been designed for that purpose. Note also that it is not recommended to use a floor cleaning robot on non-sealed hardwood floors or laminates. You will find robot vacuum cleaners do an excellent job at taking away the dirt, but keep in mind they don't benefit from a peripheral vision, so on rare occasions you might find missed particulate.
- Most cleaners do not operate beyond a 30 to 35 degree slope, but you hopefully have level floors.
- They are not capable of climbing or descending stairs.
- Robot vacuum cleaner light sensors will not work on dark black surfaces.
Where can I purchase a Robot vacuum cleaner?
RobotShop is the ideal place to purchase your robotic cleaner. Aside from the variety of models available, RobotShop offers a robot vacuum cleaner specialty shop to perform maintenance, diagnostics, and repairs. With all this expertise RobotShop goes a step further by offering you a five year limited lifetime warranty on Roomba robot vacuum cleaners.
Find out more on Roomba, Infinuvo CleanMate robot vacuum cleaners, parts and available accessories.