How Do Robot Vacuums Navigate Home – [ Easy 6 Ways ]

Sometimes people ask, “How does a robot vacuum work?” or “how do robot vacuums navigate home?” It’s typically the device’s robotic element, more than its vacuum, they’re curious about how does this computerized cleaner knows where it’s been and where it hasn’t yet?

Even how does it know when it’s finished? Or why do some seem to clean in an orderly way, while others follow a zigzag and embarrassing path?

Honestly, it turns out that the answers aren’t all that complicated. In fact, there are basically just two ways a robot vacuum finds its way around your home.

How a Robot Vacuum Navigates Your Home

Robotic vacuums use a number of different sensors and techniques to navigate around your home. Lets see below how do robot vacuums navigate home.

Watching through sensors

To clean successfully a room, a robot wants to move freely through space while staying out of trouble. However, they can’t see the world the way we do, even if there is a camera onboard. As a substitute, they use different sensors to detect obstacles, barriers, or other hazards. Also, they measure how far they’ve traveled, and discover new areas to cover.

Actually, these sensors trigger programmed characteristics that decide how the robot responds and how a robot vacuum navigates home. Overall, just which sensors a robot vacuum uses and how a robot vacuum navigates home or work can vary by manufacturer companies and model, but these are ordinary to all.

Barriers sensors

According to a robot vacuum’s point of view, our homes are a barrier course of chair legs, coffee tables, sofas, and stray toys. In fact, sensors located on or near the vacuum’s shock-absorbing bumpers allow it to steer through these obstructions without getting slowed down. If the bumper impacts an object, the sensor is activated, then the robot vacuum can turn and move away until it finds a clear path.

On the contrary, which direction it takes is decided by where the bumper makes contact. For example, when a vacuum hits an object with the left side of its bumper, it will generally turn right since it has determined the object to be to its left.

Cliff sensors

Honestly, stairs are probably the biggest trouble for robot vacuums. Moreover, a tumble could damage the vacuum or anything in its path. For this reason, cliff sensors are a sufficient safety requirement for all robot vacuums.

They measure the distance to the floor by frequently sending infrared signals to its surface, in this way how a robot vacuum navigates home is completed. When the signals don’t instantly bounce back, the robot guesses that it has reached a stair or some other cliff and will change direction.

Wall sensors

As their name, you might think wall sensors help robot vacuums avoid collisions. Not actually so. In fact, they help them detect walls, again using infrared light, so they can follow along with them. Moreover, this grants them to clean along the edges where the wall meets the floor. On the contrary, it allows them to do it without bumping or scuffing the wall as we do with standup vacuums.

Additionally, in models with mapping options, wall sensors can also help the vacuum follow around open doorways and discover new areas to clean. After all, how a robot vacuum navigates home or work can vary up to the models, but these are ordinary to all.

Wheel sensors

Actually, a robot vacuum uses light sensors to measure wheel rotation. With this measurement and the wheel circumference, it can calculate how far it has traveled.

In the past, sensor navigation was the way all robot vacuums worked. Nowadays it’s mostly limited to lower-end models, because though it’s useful, it’s not accurately efficient. The reason is these robot vacuums react to sensory input, they tend to realize their way through a room, vacuuming in random paths. To get complete coverage and clean every area necessarily once they’ll take multiple passes over a room if battery life allows.

According to tests, this usually meant longer times. In the case of larger rooms, uneven cleaning as some areas got more attention than others.

The magic of mapping

In fact, newer robot vacuums include self-navigation systems that use mapping technology. Each manufacturer executes its own certain spin on mapping, but each of them is currently built around two slightly different methods.

There is an onboard digital camera to take pictures of walls, ceilings, doorways, furniture, and other landmarks. In fact, a version of this type of mapping is used in Roomba’s 900 series vacuums and Samsung’s Powerbots. The other method, engaged in vacuums like Neato’s Botvac series, uses a laser range finder that measures the distance to objects in its path.

In both of these, the robot vacuum uses the data it collects in combination with information from its other sensors to slowly build a map of the room during its primary cleaning.


Overall, no robot vacuum will navigate flawlessly all the time. Sometimes You have to detangle them from cords or bring out them from a low couch they never should have gone under to begin with.

In the end, how a robot vacuum navigates home method your robot vacuum uses doesn’t matter as much its ability to clean your floors to your amusement with a minimum of your help.

Justin M. Neal
Justin M. Neal

Justin is a freelance writer specializing in Home Improvement and Technology. He is an avid animal lover since he was a little boy. He lives with his wife Malina, son Oliver, and their purrfect angel cat, Fifi.

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