How Robot Vacuums Are Getting Smarter

The Tesla of appliances?

Key Takeaways

  • You can now buy Samsung’s latest robot vacuum cleaner, which boasts AI and a 3D sensor. 
  • The $1,299 Jet Bot AI+ is also the world’s first robot vacuum equipped with an Intel AI solution. 
  • Robot vacuums are using some of the same navigational tools as self-driving cars.
The Samsung JetBot AI+ robot vacuum.

Samsung

The latest generation of robot vacuum cleaners is gaining many of the same tech features as self-driving cars.

Samsung’s Jet Bot AI+ $1,299 robotic vacuum is now available for purchase. It’s the world’s first robot vacuum powered by an Intel AI solution and equipped with an active stereo-type 3D sensor. The Jet Bot also has object recognition, so it hopefully won’t confuse your socks with a dust bunny. 

"From lidar technology to artificial intelligence and sonic mopping, the advances in robotic cleaning are continuing to evolve to automate the entire cleaning experience," Richard Chang, the CEO of Roborock, a company that develops robot vacuums, told Lifewire in an email interview. 

Bot With Smarts

Samsung claims the Jet Bot AI+ is the world’s first robot vacuum that comes with an active stereo-type 3D sensor, which accurately scans a wide area to avoid small, hard-to-detect objects on the floor. Its 3D depth camera—equivalent to 256,000 distance sensors—can precisely detect obstacles as small as 0.3 inches.

Object detection is supposed to prevent the unit from getting stuck on small obstacles in its cleaning path. Tesla reportedly is testing similar lidar technology for use with its self-driving cars. 

Jet Bot AI+ is also the world’s first robot vacuum equipped with artificial intelligence from Intel. The technology is supposed to let the robot navigate better by recognizing not only the objects on the floor, but also appliances and furniture.

The robot’s intelligent decision-making ensures users can have their unit clean closely around items such as children’s toys while maintaining a safe distance from delicate objects.

Jet Bot AI+ is also equipped with a lidar sensor that calculates its location precisely to optimize its cleaning path by repeatedly scanning the room to gather distance information. This technology works in dark areas, such as low-lit rooms or underneath furniture, so the unit can cover a larger area with minimal blind spots.

If you want a robot to clean efficiently and effectively, get maximum floor coverage, and not get trapped all the time, it has to be able to navigate, Chang said. "This means no random bumping robots," he added. "Those are the ones that hit a wall then veer off at random angles and just keep running until they need to recharge."

Lidar vs Cameras

Like autonomous cars, there are two main types of navigation on the market, lidar, and cameras. Lidar is a way to determine range by targeting an object with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. 

The Samsung JetBot AI+ at it's docking station.

Samsung

"Lidar can measure the angle and distance of obstacles with better accuracy, which is critical for positioning and navigation," Chang said. "It doesn't need light to work so that you can expect the same level of navigation precision in light or dark, night or day."

Camera-based systems typically use ceiling corners for positioning, which means when they go under furniture, they cannot see the corners and revert to logic-based navigation, Chang noted. Lidar systems, in contrast, can continue real-time navigation throughout the entire home.

Samsung isn’t the only company selling high-end robot vacuums. There’s also the iRobot Roomba S9+ which includes a 3D sensor that scans its path 25 times a second, gathering 230,400 data points per second to keep the Roomba S9+ from getting stuck.

The  S9+ also has a self-emptying base with a sensor in the dust bin, a brush that scrubs up low-pile carpet, and smart maps with forbidden zones. 

Melissa Leon, a consultant, is so devoted to Roomba vacuums that she owns two. 

"With three kids and two dogs, I’m busy, and I like things to be clean," she told Lifewire in an email interview. "Using electronics is the only way to make this happen. I’ve had the older of my two Roombas for nine years. The younger of the two is four years old. I’m actively looking at the next stage, which I will gladly pay a premium for as it means I won’t have to empty the trash bin as often."

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