Latest generation of robot vacuum cleaners is smarter than ever

|     Simone Andrea Mayer     |

BERLIN (dpa) – Robotic vacuum cleaners are designed to independently remove dust, crumbs and hair, freeing homeowners to go about their business.

The idea sounds attractive, but if this year’s recent IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin were any indication, not all robot cleaners are the same.

In the early years, most models failed to get over door sills or frequently got jammed under couches, not to mention most didn’t have the required suction power.

Appliance makers have spent a long time developing their robotic vacuum cleaners to the level they’re at now, putting their latest efforts on display at the Berlin fair.

Miele’s Scout RX2 has tripled its capacity compared to previous generations from the company.

Miele’s Scout RX2 has tripled its capacity compared to previous generations from the company
AEG’s cleaner has a triangular shape. Its RX6 has side brushes that make it 80 per cent more effective at removing dust from corners, according to the maker. – PHOTOS: DPA

Articulated arms with side brushes attached prevent the robot from getting jammed. The arms are retracted as soon as the robot runs up against an object.

AEG’s cleaner has a triangular shape. Its RX6 has side brushes that make it 80 per cent more effective at removing dust from corners, according to the maker.

It’s also capable of getting over protrusions, such as carpets or cables, that are up to 22 millimetres high. The cleaner is just 10 centimetres tall, which also means it’s less likely to get stuck beneath low-level furniture.

“The latest models have a higher level of intelligence,” points out Scholz. Cleaners no longer randomly move over the floor but have sensors to guide the way.

“The cleaners first survey a room to find out how big it is and where obstacles are. Then they calculate the best way to get into the corners using the least amount of energy,” says Scholz.

Bosch’s Roxxter cleaner can be programmed to avoid designated areas, as can Neato’s Botvac D7TM. Roxxter can also be controlled via a smartphone or tablet app.

“The new models are also more powerful than before,” says Scholz. Their rechargeable batteries store more energy and charge faster.

Some of the new models can also combine cleaning programmes.

Ecovacs Robotics DEEBOT OZMO 610 and 930 models are equipped with water tanks allowing them to clean parquet, laminate and tiles.

The 930 model automatically recognises what type of surface it’s travelling over. So a few of these household “elves” are capable of both removing dirt and cleaning flooring as well.

There is clearly a market for robot vacuum cleaners, at least judging by the number of robot cleaners sold in Germany so far this year.

Sales there rose 40 per cent in the first half of 2017, according to Werner Scholz, from the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association trade association.

“Compared to conventional cleaners, it’s a market segment that is relatively small still but growing quickly,” he says.

Prices for cleaners are becoming more affordable, adds Claudia Oberascher, from a household appliance information portal.

“And even though they still have their disadvantages, they are suitable for most jobs in the home.”