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How Do Robot Vacuums Work?


You might be fascinated by watching your robot vacuum clean your home efficiently, and now you’re wondering how on earth these indispensable devices work. Well, the mechanism behind this isn’t anything super-complex. Instead, it is an excellent fusion of traditional vacuums and modern technology.

To help you understand it better, in this article, we will explain how the different parts of a robot vacuum operate, making it a handy technology for homeowners.

What are the different parts of robot vacuum cleaners?


Robot vacuums are equipped with three wheels, unlike their conventional counterparts which typically have two. Two of these wheels, the right and the left, function as driving wheels, propelling the vacuum forward and backward. The third wheel is a universal wheel, which can spin freely, allowing the vacuum to pivot and adjust its direction with ease.

Vacuum Pump

Behind the wheels is the main vacuum pump, responsible for sucking in the dirt and debris on your floor. This pump is placed right in the center of the robot vacuum for efficiency purposes.


Right in front of the pump are two spinning brushes. These brushes spin inward to push all the dust, dirt, and debris they encounter into the mouth of the vacuum pump, which sucks them in.


The dust and dirt sucked in by the vacuum pump is stored in the built-in vacuum dustbin—just like traditional vacuums. You have to regularly empty the bin, although there are vacuums with auto-emptying bins, too.

Mopping Plate

Once the dust has been collected from the floor, the mopping plate, placed just behind the suction pump, presses down on the floor and mops the floor. It works on carpets, too.

How do robot vacuum map rooms?

How do robot vacuum map rooms?

Robot vacuums use a combination of sensors to detect and avoid obstructions. These sensors send data to the main chip inside the vacuum, which decides the best route to take for efficient cleaning.

Bump Sensor

The bump sensor triggers when the robot vacuum bumps into something. Once the sensor is triggered and signals are sent to the main chip, it decides to make the vacuum turn and change direction to continue its cleaning.

Lidar Sensors

Laser beams are employed by lidar technology to create a detailed map of the surroundings. It calculates the distance between the vacuum and the surrounding obstructions to save the vacuum from impact and plan its route.

The main function of this sensor is to differentiate between furniture and walls.

Cliff Sensor

Since the bump and Lidar sensors cannot sense any pits (i.e. downward stairs), the cliff sensor comes into action. It is basically an infrared sensor, the only difference is that it emits infrared downward and waits for it to bounce back.

When it senses a decrease in the reflected radiation, it knows that the vacuum is near the stairs and a turn needs to be made.


The above three sensors help the vacuum protect itself from about 90% of the obstructions. What’s left are complicated obstructions like clothes or tangled wires. This is why a robotic vacuum with camera utilizes the Lidar sensor to avoid such obstructions and continue cleaning.

Charging and Maintenance


Robot vacuums work on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The battery life of each model depends on the size of the floor you’re cleaning. Usually, each model works around 60-80 minutes before it needs to be recharged.

Besides, just like other machines and traditional vacuums, robot vacuums also need regular maintenance to ensure peak performance. This includes regularly cleaning the filters, wheels, and brushes, and checking for faulty sensors and batteries.

Scheduled Cleaning

Robot vacuums have an edge over traditional ones because you can schedule cleaning. When connected with an app or smart home assistant, you can schedule these sweepers to start cleaning at a specific time during the day, so you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to turn it on every time you require cleaning.

Remote Control and App Integration

Remote Control and App Integration

One reason why smart vacuums have become a necessity is that they can be controlled with a touch, unlike traditional vacuums that you have to drag around the room. Some robot vacuum models come with a remote control, letting you sit back and relax as the robot cleans.

Some models even offer an app that you can use to control them from wherever you want. The app allows you to control the vacuums to start, stop, and switch between cleaning modes, empty the dustbin, or put it on charging.

Smart Home Integration

A robot floor cleaner when connected to a smart home assistant takes the cleaning game to a whole different level. Whether you are working from home, cooking, or busy with any other task, simply command the home assistant to turn the robot vacuum on or off, or schedule it.

Some smart home assistants also send notifications and alerts about the smart vacuum on your phone. This means you will get an alert if the vacuum’s battery is low or if it encounters an issue.

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