How Does a Robot Vacuum Cleaner Work?

Robot vacuum cleaners fall under the category of AI, or artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is intelligence that is simulated and demonstrated by technology and machines. Robot vacuums have the ability to clean and vacuum without any human direction at all. It essentially is a hands-free method of cleaning. Talk about a luxury!

Function of Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Overall, at the end of the day, a robotic vacuum cleaner is pretty similar to a regular vacuum. The main difference is that it uses AI. A robot vacuum cleaner operates with an electric motor that provides the suction for the vacuum. The suction created by the motor allows the vacuum to collect dirt, dust and debris which is then powered into a deposit dust cup. As the name implies, the difference between a regular vacuum and a robot vacuum cleaner is that the robot vacuum cleaner, such as a Roomba, is considered to be autonomous. An autonomous cleaner is one that is able to operate on its own without a human assisting


All robot vacuum cleaners rely on sensors to analyze its environment. These sensors tell the robot vacuum where to go, where not to go, and where the dirt is that needs to be cleaned. These sensors on the robot vacuums are able to send out a light beam. Depending on how that particular beam bounces back and returns to the robot, it is able to learn about the area surrounding it.Some brands of robot vacuums even utilize ultrasonic sensors and they rely on sound waves instead of light. For these robot vacuums, the process is still the same.

Types of Sensors

There are different types of sensors that these robot vacuums use. Some use cliff sensors which can be located at the very base of the robot vacuum and are placed there for a reason. They are able to help the robot to know when they reach the edge of something to prevent them from going off the end or down a drop.

Wall sensors will look for a continuous line, which is a wall. They will use the findings from the wall sensor to follow closely along this said wall.

Other robot vacuums rely on impact sensors which do not use a beam to navigate them around the home. These impact sensors do what it sounds like they do: they alert the robot when it has bumped into something and therefore, they need to find a new path to take.

Some use optical encoders, which are the most intricate ones out there on robot vacuums. Less expensive models may have a combination of the others, but this feature is typically seen most often on the more expensive models. The optical encoders have the ability to track how the wheels move. By tracking this wheel movement, the robot is able to determine how far it has gone on its cleaning route and how many turns have been made along the way. With this, the robot vacuum is able to determine its location and is then able to navigate itself around the area to be cleaned.

Memory on Robot Vacuums

A robot vacuum possesses a fairly good memory. They have the ability to remember what they have done and what still needs to be cleaned. Using AI, the robot vacuum has the ability to form a giant picture of the area it is in and then can turn and use that to determine the cleaning course it is going to take to make sure to cover all areas of the home.

Bluetooth Capability

Via Bluetooth and an app on our phones, a robot vacuum is able to communicate with us. Through Bluetooth, information is sent to the app and we can send it information. We can set up its cleaning schedule and determine remotely when it turns on and off and the course it takes. We are even able to set up devices that block the robot vacuum from entering certain rooms or areas of the home. We can even alter the cleaning schedule they follow.

With so much available at our fingertips and with AI available, robot vacuums are a practical, customizable, and helpful option for keeping our homes clean.

Share this: