How do Robot Vacuum Cleaner Mops Work, Clean and Navigate?

A robot vacuum cleaner can navigate your home, clean, and mop the floors while avoiding obstacles like clothes, carpets, furniture, walls, and even staircases.

How do these machines find their way around your house? Learn how robot vacuum cleaners work.

Viaomi V3 Robovac

The most challenging job for any homemaker is to sweep and mop the floors. A vacuum cleaner is a handy appliance that can reduce this workload and add to her convenience.

However, the traditional vacuum cleaners still need manual intervention as one has to physically clean and mop the floors. If you are looking for automation, the robot vacuum cleaners provide the ideal solution because these appliances clean and mop the floors automatically.

Let us understand how robotic vacuum cleaning appliances work.

As we explore how a robot vacuum cleaner works, the question that comes to mind almost immediately is how do these machines navigate their way through your house with its myriad obstacles.

Does it have a secret hidden camera, or can it see as we do?

No, the answer lies in two simple words, “Sensors” and “Smart” Let us now decode these two terms to understand the working of these machines.


Sensors – Help the vacuum cleaners see or feel the world around it

Robot vacuum cleaners come equipped with different kinds of sensors, including bump sensors, cliff sensors, wall sensors, and optical encoders. Here is how these sensors work.

Cliff Sensors

This sensor is located below the machine, and it measures the distance between its base and the floor by bouncing infrared light off the floor. If it senses that the height has increased, the machine is close to a staircase. Such a situation causes the machine to back off.

Anker Eufy G30 Robovac

Bump Sensors

The name itself suggests that these sensors get activated when the vacuum cleaners bump into obstacles like furniture legs, walls, clothes strewn on the floor, thick carpets and rugs, and even human feet. The appliance backs off and takes an alternate route.

Wall Sensors

Wall sensors are similar to cliff sensors because they indicate that the robot is close to a wall. However, these sensors work differently because it tells the machine to maintain the safest distance while moving alongside the wall. In a sense, it follows the wall. In this way, it cleans the crevices between the wall and the floor using brushes attached to its sides.

Optical encoders

These sensors are found on the vacuum cleaning appliance’s wheels. It indicates the distance traveled by the machine. These light sensors detect the number of times the wheel has rotated to give it an idea about the distance it has traveled.

While these four sensors are the primary technologies involved in the robotic vacuum cleaner’s functioning, some machines come with additional sensors like a dust scanner to estimate the quantity of dust collected inside the machine.

Generally, all robotic vacuum cleaners come with the features discussed above. The top-end machines have something extra to offer. Hence, these machines are known as intelligent robot vacuum cleaners.

Smart – Learn how a robot vacuum cleaning machine navigates through your house.

Robotic vacuum cleaning appliances, interestingly, take inspiration from ants to navigate their way through your house.

You might have noticed how ants move around your house in a set pattern. It goes out in search of food, returns to its base, and also guides other ants.

Similarly, the robot vacuum cleaner does not require mapping your entire house to navigate through it. It should be capable of reacting to different situations. In this way, it cleans your room smartly. The robot vacuum cleaning machine works on a set of rules, also referred to as behavior. For example, if it encounters a wall, it turns and moves away.

These machines follow three sets of behaviors, straight behavior, spiral behavior, and bounce behavior. Generally, the robot vacuum cleaning appliances are programmed to move in a straight line. It keeps moving until it hits an obstacle. On doing so, it stops, turns, and resumes moving in a straight line.

The spiral behavior enables the cleaner to rotate in concentric circles and clean the floor by expanding the radii of these circles.

The bounce behavior comes in handy when the machine encounters an obstacle like a wall or furniture. It changes its angle and resumes cleaning the room.

ozmo deebot 950
ozmo deebot 950

Let us quickly see how these behaviors help these machines navigate your house.

  • The spiral behavior proves handy to clean stubborn dirt as the machine repeatedly moves around in circles over the same area to clean the floor thoroughly.
  • Once the machine senses an obstacle like a wall, it automatically changes to following the wall for a distance.
  • The machine can sense the end of the wall by calculating the distance between its edge and the wall using specially guided lasers that bounce back. If the distance increases considerably, it senses there is no wall beside it. Thus, it resumes moving around in a straight line.
  • You can mark boundaries using a special adhesive tape supplied along with the machine. These boundaries prevent the vacuum cleaner from venturing into prohibited areas.

Mopping Function

Robot vacuum cleaners come with mopping functions that help mop the floors after vacuuming the dirt. Such machines come fitted with a water tank programmed to eject water in small quantities whenever necessary. These appliances feature a disposable mopping cloth placed beneath the machine that mops the floor as the machine sprays water over it.

Smartphone app compatibility

Robot vacuum cleaner smartphone compatibility

Today, you have robot vacuum cleaning machines that are compatible with smartphone apps. These apps help map your floor plan and chart out the route for the machine to work. It is possible to operate and control the robot vacuum cleaner from remote locations.

Ability to clean different floor surfaces

Most robot vacuum cleaners can clean different types of flooring such as tiles, wooden, and carpeted.  

Automatic Recharging Feature

These machines work on rechargeable batteries. If the battery level reduces to less than 20%, the machine automatically stops cleaning and proceeds to the docking station for recharging the batteries. On completing the recharge, the machine starts its cleaning job from the exact location it stopped before the recharge.

Final Words

Now, you have an idea of how your robot vacuum cleaning machines navigate and find their way around your house to perform an efficient cleaning job. It does save a lot of labor for the homemaker and enhances the comfort and convenience factor.


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