A Brief History Of Robot Vacuums

history of robot vacuums

When the first robot vacuum cleaner was launched by Electrolux in 1996, a dream came true for many housewives. It was called the Trilobite, and even though the name reminded of some kind of clunky prehistoric beast, the future had well and truly arrived! Vacuuming would finally be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, the device didn’t live up to the expectations and production was quickly shelved. 

First Dyson and iRobot models

Enter Dyson, whose model was ridiculously expensive and therefore never made it onto the consumer market. Luckily, the American company iRobot continued its research and introduced the Roomba, the very first mass-produced robotic vacuum cleaner. It surely had its flaws, but it was able to convince enough people of its qualities. Since then, robot vacuum cleaner and Roomba have become synonyms, to give you an idea of its popularity. 

More research and development

Building on the success of the Roomba, other companies returned to the drawing table and came up with their own versions during the first decade of the 21st century. These first models used ultrasound for navigation purposes, which later evolved to laser-vision. Even though the first robovacs were already a huge success, difficulties remained. They would continuously bump into obstacles, clean inefficiently and have rather short battery life. Confident this appliance would continue to charm customers, other manufacturers worked tirelessly to get rid of these impediments. 

Robovac with mounted camera

After years of research, Dyson launched a revolutionary robovac with enhanced suction, prolonged battery life and a mounted 360°camera, which greatly improved the navigation capacities. The race was now open for even more intelligent features, extended battery-efficiency and greater cleaning precision. With the introduction of smartphones came another revolution in the life of vacuum robots: it became possible to control your robovac through a companion app on your smartphone!

Huge choice on the market

There are now dozens of different models on the market, each with their own specific features. Artificial intelligence has made it possible for robovacs to map their environment and perform spot cleaning. Our little robot friends can now even be operated with voice-control and have become fully customizable for a personalised vacuuming experience. The latest innovations include obstacle-climbing tank tracks, built-in all-round cameras for mobile security, mopping capabilities and self-emptying features. 

It’s exciting to see how robot vacuum cleaners have evolved from simple machines with basic cleaning capacities to versatile intelligent appliances. Robovacs are bound to become smarter by the day. Manufacturers are working on the material-detection features, ever-improving battery life, maximised speed, larger brushes and so on. 

Future evolution

Even though robotic vacuum cleaners can’t fully replace regular vacuum cleaners at the moment, one thing is certain: robovacs are here to stay and will soon be as indispensable as a refrigerator of a toaster. Prices keep going down, making them affordable to every household. There is a model for every budget, so why wait to get your new pet?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a robot vacuum go over rugs?

Robot vacuums have no problem whatsoever cleaning carpets and rugs. The suction capacity varies depending on which type and brand you buy, but all models do a really good cleaning record.

How long does it take before the robot vacuum needs to recharge?

High end models can have up to 180 minutes of battery life, which is plenty to clean an entire floor. When the battery does find itself empty, this isn't a problem for the more sophisticated robot cleaners, as they are equipped with a docking station they automatically return to when their battery is about to die. Once fully recharged, the robot will continue cleaning where it left off. Cheaper bots will need to plugged in to recharge.

How much does a robot vacuum cleaner cost?

On the lower end of the price spectrum, you can get a robot vacuum cleaner for about $150, but it might not be WiFi enabled. The most expensive robots sell for about $1000, and for that price you will get all the bells and whistles. Just remember that more expensive doens't always mean better performing. It all depends on your household needs.

How does a robot vacuum find the charger?

The docking stations of self-charging robot vacuums emit an infrared signal. When the battery is about to die, the vacuum starts looking for this signal. When the robot finds it, it follows the signal back to its station to charge.