Daily Deals 💰💰💰

Save up to 40% on your favourite vacuum cleaners & other home products.

Daily Deals 💰💰💰

Save up to 40% on your favourite vacuum cleaners while supplies last. Click to Order Now!

How Does a Robot Vacuum Cleaner Work? Explained!

Published by: Katherine Frame

How Does a Robot Vacuum Cleaner Work

Are you one of those people who want to have a clean and tidy home but don’t have the time to do it? Unfortunately, cleaning the house of your floor can be a huge drag. That’s where a robot vacuum cleaner comes in. 

This guide will help you understand how a robot vacuum cleaner works and how you can benefit from it. So, if you are ready, let’s dive in! 

What is a Robot Vacuum Cleaner? 

People these days don’t have all the energy or time to keep vacuuming their floors. Still, they all like clean and tidy home.

If you’re a busy individual, you might not have the needed energy or time to get your manual vacuum cleaner out. And, not everyone has the spare money to pay a cleaner either. This is where a robotic vacuum cleaner comes to the rescue.

With a robotic vacuum cleaner, you can place it on the floor, press the “go” button, and off it goes, cleaning in and around your furniture. 

Now, you may be thinking about how this little machine could do the dirty job for you. It may involve some robotic technology, allowing the vacuum cleaner to clean the room without any human intervention. 

You’re right, robot vacuums use a sophisticated set of sensors to work. Let’s see the robot vacs working in detail…

How Does Robot Vacuum Cleaners Work?

Robot vacuum cleaner works by using different technologies such as sensor activation and self-navigation with mapping technology.

Technology has made everything possible in a matter of a click. For example, robot vacuum cleaners have “sensor activation” or a self-navigation system that uses different types of technology for mapping and navigation. 

Some robot vacuum cleaners use an onboard digital camera that can collect data and information through pictures. Others use Light Detection and Ranging that assess the distance of objects within the path of the robot vacuum cleaner. Both of these methods and techniques are being used for the vacuum cleaner’s self-navigation capabilities. 

You will find one thing in common in all robot vacuum cleaners: the use of “sensors.” These sensors detect possible “hazards,” the distance being travelled and explore new areas to be cleaned. In addition, the sensor triggers the “programmed behaviour” of the robot vacuum cleaner in it as it determines the robot’s response. 

This household equipment works through negative pressure. The sucking action of the robot vac creates a negative pressure—a pressure that is lower than the surrounding atmosphere. It then creates a negative pressure inside the vacuum cleaner that triggers the air to flow.

It also uses an electric motor that spins the fan in, sucking the air and even the tiniest dust particle in the air and pushes it to the canister.

This is a quick video showing how Roomba robot vacuums do the automated cleaning…

Different Types of Sensors

Let’s take a look at the different types of sensors used on a robot vacuum cleaner. 

Cliff sensors

Robots don’t have human perception and personal judgement, and their movement is primarily based on the type of program installed in it. For instance, cliff sensors will automate the robot to detect if it’s approaching the stairs and change its course right away. 

It is considered a safety requirement to prevent the robot vacuums from stumbling that may cause severe damage to them. It also emits infrared signals to the surface. When the signal doesn’t bounce back, the system built inside it will recognize it as a “cliff” and change its direction immediately.

Wheel sensors

Light sensors trigger the wheel rotation of the vacuum cleaner. It uses a light sensor and measures the wheel rotation and wheel circumference. It also calculates the distance travelled by the vacuum cleaner. 

Obstacle sensors

Your house is a big obstacle course for a robot vacuum cleaner. That’s why it uses obstacle sensors to steer away from any obstructions without slowing down. It tries to avoid possible obstacles by redirecting its direction every time it bumps into a certain object. 

Its direction is determined by the object it bumps, allowing it to shift its direction away from that object, thereby passing through a clear path.

Wall sensors

Wall sensor emits infrared light to help with sensor navigation. This allows the robot vacuum cleaner to sense or detect walls and gives it the ease to clean the edges where the wall meets the floor. 

Furthermore, vacuum cleaners with these sensors have mapping capabilities, allowing them to open doorways and proceed to new areas to be cleaned.

Sensor Navigation is Becoming a Passé

Recent trends in the vacuum industry proved that sensor navigation might not be as efficient as self-navigation technology. 

However, sensor-activated robot vacuum cleaners may be considered effective, but it’s only being limited to the lower-end models. You will also find some disadvantages to using these types of vacuums, like it gropes its way through the room and creates a haphazard cleaning path.

The sensor-activated robot vacuum cleaners tend to consume more cleaning time and cause uneven cleaning in larger areas. That’s why a lot of manufacturers started to shift to a self-navigation system that uses mapping technology. This technology has certain advantages over the sensor-activated robot vacuum cleaners, as it can plot its course to areas to clean through a floor plan.  

Floor mapping done by a robot vacuum cleaner

The floor plan allows the vacuum cleaner to clean the room in a straight line, thereby effectively cleans the room areas. It also guides the machine to proceed to the areas that haven’t been cleaned yet. Thus, it seems that it localizes the equipment within the map.

The best feature of this technology is that whenever the robot vacuum runs out of battery, it has the artificial intelligence to return to its dock and charge itself.

Once fully recharged, it will go back to the unfinished area. It’s like the machine has a mind of its own. Such capabilities help the robot vacuum cleaner clean the area in less amount of time.  


Robot vacuum cleaners have significantly transformed the art of home cleaning. There’s no doubt that the invention and integration of artificial intelligence into home equipment resulted in great convenience, saving you a lot of time and energy. 

What used to be heavy and bulky vac units are now available in compact and easy-storage designs. But robot vacuum cleaners can be at par with large vacuums regarding power, functionality, and durability. Moreover, you can rely on its usage to powerfully suck up debris, dirt, and dust on hard floors and carpets.   

Gone are the days where you need to spend time holding and controlling the vacuum cleaner throughout the day. Now, these robotic vacs can instinctively sense anything that obstructs their path and is automated to map courses around your floor. The best part here is that it’s hands-free and worry-free! 

These devices boast state-of-the-art designs, technology, and components, combined with in-built sensors to ensure extraordinary performance in maintaining your home’s cleanliness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to get the most from your robot vac?

Would you like to know how you can maximize this highly advanced vacuum cleaner? One way to achieve that is to plan before you start cleaning. For example, try to walk through your home and identify the objects and areas that the machine cannot handle.

What is the best tip when using a robot vacuum?

Create a “toss space” that will serve as a place where you can temporarily leave your items and return them after you’re done cleaning. This will help clear any “possible” obstacles and hindrances to your robot vacuum, thereby maximizing its utility.

Photo of author

Article by:

Katherine Frame

Katherine Frame is a professional writer and reviewer who worked in higher education for eight years before working on The Hardware Hub. She has written for multiple home magazines and blogs.

Leave a Comment