From a sales standpoint, robot vacuums are the most successful consumer robot ever. Robot vacuums have certainly simplified, not quite eliminated, one of the most daunting household chores: cleaning. So the success makes sense.
But just how popular are robot vacuums? At TechCrunch Beijing, iRobot CEO Colin Angle said 20 percent of the world’s vacuum cleaners are robots. Of those that are robots, 70 percent are from iRobot, which has sold 14 million Roombas to date.
As Angle said, iRobot “has a long lead in terms of working on the problem, and because it’s focused on consumer home cleaning products exclusively.” iRobot was built on military robotics, of course, but it divested that division for $45 million in early 2016 after being pressured by investors.
The Roomba has certainly become a household name, but its competition is growing. After 18 years and nearly $56 million spent on development, the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum finally hit the market in August 2016. Neato introduced its Botvac D3 Connected in September 2016 for $399, the company’s most affordable robot vacuum in the lineup to date.
Beijing-based Xiaomi, the world’s 4th largest smartphone maker, is also getting into robot vacuums with the Xiaomi Mi robot vacuum. And, finally, DIYers are even building their own robot vacuums using four motors, an Arduino Uno, IR and ultrasonic sensors.