Robot vacuums haven’t been around very long, the original, by Electrolux Trilobite prototype showed up in 1996 and had some of the same features seen in very modern models. It had a vacuum cleaner that worked on long carpet, avoided obstacles, its own automatic return docking and an indicator light to empty the dust compartment.
Comparing the capabilities of that initial Electrolux with some current models it almost seems like we haven’t come very far with this technology. Who wants to spend a stack of cash on a robot cleaner only to have to drag the vacuum cleaner out to finish the job?
The Trilobite prototype was promoted on television in 1996 and released for sale in 2001. Dyson was unsuccessfully tried to get in on the game but it wasn’t until iRobot made the Roomba that they became popular.
The original Roomba made these machines popular in 2002 but they didn’t return to its dock to recharge. It had a battery which needed removal at a power adapter on the wall. What it did have, was intelligent sensors to detect things like stairs and a side brush allowing it to clean right up against the walls. Some models released after this had a remote control to drive it to the next area to clean as opposed to picking it up and taking it there. It could also decide if something was dirtier than something else and spend more time there.
In 2018 Robot vacuum cleaners starting at around the $200 mark can do amazing things. Some are voice controlled with Amazon Alexa or Google Home. A recent Haier model, now unavailable for sale, featured a camera so that you could see and talk to your pet or roommate if you thought they might be lonely while you were out. The iRobot Braava can mop with a microfiber cloth attachment and the iClebo Omega can adjust its height for different floor types.
Now that smart home technologies are intelligent enough to control your home, innovation can only get better in the coming years. Robot vacuums of the future will learn just like Google assistant does. If you don’t like that your robot needs scheduling to clean up the dining area twice every day, it will just decide to do it. It might be able to clean the patio outside as well as the floors inside and it will be energy-efficient. More than likely you won’t even need to see it. You’ll just come home to a clean house.