Robot Vacuum Mapping — All You Need to Know

Have you wondered how does robot vacuum mapping work? It’s fascinating to watch a robot vacuum working effortlessly as it navigates your home, dodging objects, not bumping into walls, and keeping away from trying to vacuum the stairs. What’s even more captivating is how it finds its way back to its home docking station and recharges, ready for the next vacuuming expedition.

Robot Vacuum MappingThe best robot vacuums use mapping technology to learn the layout of your home. This mapping doesn’t just prevent the vacuum from bumping into baseboards. But it also remembers your home’s carpeted, hardwood, and tiled areas. And you can also set the vacuum to clean specific areas of your home more frequently.

Some of the most expensive models have a self-charging base and automatic dirt disposal to empty the vacuum after each use. For pet owners, some robot vacs are suited to picking up pet hair and dander and contain HEPA filters. You can also buy robotic vacs with a water tank and mopping function.

While the actions of the small circular device may seem straightforward, smart robot vacuum mapping is a complex process.

What is Vacuum Mapping?

Vacuum mapping is an innovative system to map out a room’s layout. The mapping technology is based on sensors, cameras, lasers, gyroscopes—or a combination of these to learn areas to vacuum. This way, the robot vacuum can clean accurately and efficiently without missing specific areas or working in random patterns.

After the robotic vacuum has mapped your home, you can use a smartphone app to pick areas to clean.

For example, you can program the robot vac to clean at certain times during the day or night. In addition, the intelligent device can clean high foot traffic areas more frequently to keep your carpeted, hardwood, and tiled floors free from dust, debris, and pet hair.

So, all you must do is put your feet up, relax, and let the vacuum do your housework. In fact, you don’t even have to put your feet up. The smart device will sense where they are and will vacuum around you.

What are the Different Mapping Technologies Robot Vacuums Use?

The best mapping robot vacuums use three different types of sensors—LiDAR, camera, or gyroscope (accelerometer). Some of the most accurate robotic vacs use a combination of these sensors to create the most precise map of each room. But, of course, the mapping technology impacts the vacuum’s cost.

Here is a description of the mapping technologies used in robot vacuums.

LiDAR Navigation

The most accurate mapping technology is LiDAR which uses a laser sensor to map a room. The laser emits light pulses and detects how long it takes to be reflected from objects. The vacuum moves in straight lines, and the lasers effectively navigate edges, corners, and large pieces of furniture.

LiDAR is an acronym for “light detection and ranging,” which accurately describes how the technology works. This technology is typically used in premium models.

Camera-Based Mapping

A mid-range mapping robotic vacuum uses digital cameras to map your home’s layout. The camera takes photos of landmarks in rooms to navigate around them successfully. One issue with robotic vacuums with camera-based mapping is that they don’t work in the dark.

Typically, camera-based technology is used in affordable robot vacuums, costing less than LiDAR vacs.

Gyroscope or Accelerometer-Based Mapping

Lower-end models use an accelerometer or gyroscope sensor to measure the distance and direction of objects. Although this type of mapping system is better than non-systematic navigation, which creates random cleaning patterns, it’s not as accurate as LiDAR or camera-based mapping.

Gyroscope-based mapping is usually used in cheap robot vacuums.

Which Type of Mapping Technology is the Most Reliable for Robot Vacuums

mapping technologies used in robot vacuumsLiDAR or laser-based mapping technology creates the most accurate floor plans of your house. The advanced robot vacuum cleans carpeted and hardwood floors methodically thanks to the precise mapping method. The best LiDAR models also know when to switch automatically between varying floor surfaces for the best and most efficient vacuuming.

Newer robotic vacs on the market use a combination of technologies for mapping. Combining various sensors—lasers, gyroscopes, and cameras—the vacuum can clean even more effectively and achieve outstanding cleaning performance.

Robot Vacuum Mapping — Frequently Asked Question’s

Robotic vacuums are becoming ever more popular. But their high price tag can make you wonder if the small disc-like vacuums are worth it. However, understanding how the technology works helps you know why a robot vac with mapping capabilities is more expensive than a traditional vacuum.

Is Mapping Needed for Robot Vacuums?

Less expensive robot vacuums don’t have mapping technology and use a type of bounce navigation. The vacuum moves in a random, haphazard way, bouncing off objects. Unfortunately, the vacuum will frequently miss areas or clean the same area multiple times. Most homeowners find that robotic vacuums without mapping are not worth the money.

How do Robot Vacuum Cleaners Navigate?

A robot vacuum cleaner uses a series of sensors to find its way around your house. The smart navigation system can be laser-based, camera-based, or use an accelerometer to identify objects to navigate. Once the mapping has taken place, the vacuum will clean in straight lines, avoiding items on the floor.

How Long does it Take for a Robot Vacuum to Map Your House?

It typically takes three or four runs for a robot vacuum to generate a complete map of your home. You can also switch the vacuum to map and clean simultaneously. In this case, it may take five or six runs to complete the mapping process.

Depending on how frequently you vacuum your home, it can take several days to complete the map diagram. To reduce the time it takes you to map the house, you can send out the bot vacuum several times a day. Or you could send it on a few special mapping runs and map the house in one day.

Which Robot Vacuum is Best at Mapping?

The best mapping system for mobile robotic vacuums uses LiDAR (light detection and ranging) techniques. This laser-guided vacuum has sensors and light nodes on the top of the unit and possibly on the sides. As a result, the LiDAR-based vacuum has the most accurate mapping and precise navigation among all the robotic vacs.

Many studies into the best mapping technologies for robot vacuums concur that LiDAR is the most effective technique to map a room. When this technology is combined with remote control via smartphone apps, wireless technology, and cloud computing, the cleaning capabilities are even more effective.

Can I Move My Robot Vacuum to Different Floors?

Moving your robot vacuum between floors is easy if it has multi-floor mapping. Of course, you will need to conduct a few mapping runs on each floor before its first outing. But remember—a robot vacuum can do many things but can’t climb stairs. Therefore, you will need to carry the robotic vac to each floor physically.

Can You Use a Robot Vacuum Upstairs and Downstairs?

Robot Vacuum on Hardwood floorYou can use a robotic vac if you have multiple floors in your home. However, cleaning upstairs and downstairs requires one of two things. First, you can move the robot and the charging station to the other floor every other week. Or you could purchase a robotic vacuum for each floor.

Most people who use one bot to vacuum upstairs and downstairs leave the unit in the dirtiest room. This is typically the kitchen. You can then program the vacuum to clean the downstairs area every day. Afterwards, take the vacuum upstairs every week or so and set it on a cleaning run during the daytime.

Do all Robot Vacuums Need Boundary Strips?

Not all robot vacuums work with boundary strips that create virtual no-go zones. However, boundary strips are excellent for creating virtual walls. These virtual boundaries prevent the vacuum from tumbling down the stairs or going into areas you don’t want them to. So, for the magnetic tapes to work, the vacuum must be capable of recognizing magnetic fields.

How do Robot Vacuums Clean Corners?

Robot vacuums clean corners using extended bristles spinning at the front two corners of the unit. These small brushes are necessary as most robot vacuums are circular and can’t get into corners. However, how effectively the robot vacuum cleans corners depends on the design.

If vacuuming corners is a must in your house, you could consider a top-end robotic vac with a D-shape design. The flat edge of the vacuum effortlessly moves along baseboards or furniture and easily gets into corners.

A more cost-effective way of vacuuming corners effectively is to purchase corner attachments. These are typically longer bristles to replace the ones that come with the unit.

Robot Vacuum Mapping — A Takeaway

A robot vacuum with mapping technology is a fantastic time-saver, letting you cut down on housework while maintaining cleaner floors.

The best robot vacuums can map a home using laser technology or camera-guided systems. These vacs can clean effectively in large houses that have several obstacles in each room and various floor surfaces. However, a cost-friendlier robot vacuum with gyroscope-based mapping would be sufficient if you have a small home or apartment.