Say the words ‘smart robot cleaners’ and your first thought may be R2-D2 in a pair of Marigolds. But today’s domestic ‘droids’ are nothing like what you’d see in the movies – they’re smaller, quieter and a lot more reliable.
Decades ago, the thought of having your own personal robot to clean your home seemed completely out of reach, yet now, along with the biggest smart home ideas and trends, the robot revolution is now thriving, with dinky automated machines busying themselves in thousands of homes around the world.
What can smart robot cleaners do?
For now at least, the tasks that domestic robots can handle are mainly limited to cleaning. The most popular – and the ones that have been available the longest – are vacuum cleaners.
They pride themselves on knowing how to clean carpet or hard flooring, relying on mapping out the area they need to cover first, then navigating themselves around that saved map as they clean. They charge on a dock and return to it automatically when they’ve finished, so in theory you never have to lift a finger.
Robot mowers work on pretty much the same principle, mowing the grass and releasing micro cuttings as it moves to improve the soil. Some robots allow you to create virtual barriers to avoid your vacuum getting stuck under the dining room chairs, or your mower ending up in your flower beds.
Are there other smart robot cleaners?
There are robots that can handle wet cleaning, too. Much like vacuums, robot mops move around your hard flooring, spraying the surface in front of its path, then following with its mopping pad.
Robots work vertically too, so you no longer may need to know how to clean your windows. Perfect for large patio doors or shower screens, they stick to your windows using suction, delivering a fine mist of detergent and water to the glass before gliding over it with their microfibre base.
Finally, worth a mention is the GrillBot, which will tackle the unenviable job of cleaning a grubby barbecue grill plate. Despite the name, this is really just a motorpowered gadget with brushes, rather than a clever robot.
Robot cleaners tend to work best in larger areas, so the more floor, lawn or window you have, the more effective (and convenient) they are.
But are they really ‘smart’?
This depends on the model. The more expensive and advanced a machine is, the more likely it will have smart functionality, either programmed using a smartphone app or voice controlled.
The majority of robot vacuums and mowers have this as standard so you can set your machine to run a certain time of the day or week, or map out no-go areas.
Alternatively, you can ask it to give your floor or lawn a once over using one of the best smart speakers like Alexa, Google or Siri.
Who makes smart robot cleaners?
Neato (opens in new tab), Roborock, iRobot (opens in new tab) and Eufy are well established robot vacuum cleaner brands, while companies like Miele, Samsung (opens in new tab) and AEG have all introduced robot vacs to their existing ranges.
With limited availability and only beginning to establish themselves in the UK are robot mops; look out for iRobot, Roborock, Bissell and Roidmi.
Window cleaning robots are produced by lesser-known brands such as Gladwell, ElectriQ and HUTT, but one expects that availability will grow, too.