It’s been more than 15 years since iRobot launched the Roomba, introducing the world to the wonders of the robotic vacuum cleaner. Since then, the world of household robot vacuums have moved beyond a novelty with product expansions to include floor-mopping robots, window-cleaning robots, swimming pool-cleaning robots and even gutter-cleaning robots.
While some robots are considered for commercial and industrial uses, a large majority of robot vacuums operate in the home autonomously, able to start from and return to a recharging docking station.
Beyond cleaning the home’s floor, new models can communicate and interact with connected homes, through either mobile device app support or voice-enabled commands via Amazon Alexa or Google Home speakers. Connectivity with other devices via either smart home technology or Internet of Things devices will create new opportunities for robot manufacturers.
The market for robot vacuums varies depending on the research firm, but expectations for growth are high across different reports. Within the “cleaning robot market”, which also includes lawn-mowing robots, pool-cleaning robots and window-cleaning robots, the market is expected to grow from $2.09 billion this year to $4.34 billion by 2023, according to Research and Markets.
Referencing the International Federation of Robotics, a Statista report said “the market for robotics in personal and domestic applications will be dominated by robots cleaning floors and mowing the lawn for the next few years,” with 31 million household robots sold between 2016 and 2019 (with 96% of those in the vacuum and floor cleaning space).
Bring on the robot vacuums
The latest generation of robots has improved greatly from the early days – robots now have better suction strength, a variety of different brush options, edge-cleaning abilities, intelligent room mapping, smarter sensors, and advanced software features. Here are some of the leading robot vacuum manufacturers and their latest features:
U.K.-based Dyson makes many upright and canister vacuum cleaners, but also offers the high-end Dyson 360 Eye robot. The company claims it offers “twice the suction of any robot vacuum,” and offers 360-degree navigation. Control is handled through its Dyson Link app
The San Francisco company recently launched three new models – the Deebot Ozmo 930, Deebot Ozmo 610, and Deebot 900, to its line of robotic vacuums. All three models now include voice activation support with Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices, as well as control through a mobile app.
In addition to traditional vacuum cleaners, Eufy has four models in the RoboVac line of robotic vacuums, including the 11+, 11c and 11c Pet Edition. The RoboVac 11c (and pet edition) models include Amazon Alexa compatibility, built-in Wi-Fi and app support for remote control that lets you manually guide the robot.
The company whose name was once synonymous with the term “vacuum” also includes a robot vacuum model, the Rogue 970. The robot includes its Robart Mapping Technology that can navigate and remember the home’s floor plan, as well as SmartWall technology that lets users mark off rooms or areas as “off limits” through the mobile Hoover Home App. The robot also includes voice control, Wi-Fi connectivity and dirt detection features.
Shenzhen, China-based ILIFE has two series of robot vacuums, the A Series and V series. Within the A series, the newest model is the A8, which features the PanoView navigation system with 360-degree scanning and 36 detection sensors, which lets the robot “clean a large space without missing or repeating any areas.” The robot can also remember its position and its planned route after it self-charges, resuming cleaning with its original coordinates
The robot vacuum originator continues to create new versions of its Roomba system. The latest versions include the Roomba 890 and Roomba 690, which include Wi-Fi connection features and Amazon Alexa voice support (as does the Roomba 900, an earlier version). Owners can use the iRobot HOME App to control the robot – the app also gives information about cleaning status, tips and direct access to customer support.
Newark, Calif.-based Neato offers several models within its Botvac line of robot vacuums, ranging in price from $399 up to $799. All the systems use its LaserSmart navigation system, and its D-shaped design is different than traditional circular robots from other companies. Most models include Wi-Fi connectivity, Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice support, as well as app support for its Neato SmartLife App.
South Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung offers several robot vacuums through its POWERbot line, with options that include wi-fi connectivity, different brush types, and edge cleaning. The company also offers two Star Wars-branded limited edition models that look like either Darth Vader’s or a Stormtrooper’s helmet.