People have long understood all the advantages and benefits of robotic vacuum cleaners. And those who have already become happy owners of such devices, and those who are just considering buying a robot, know that all robots work without human participation and oversight, have a remote control, clean thoroughly, navigate in space, don`t make noise, etc.
But how does all this work and due to what are all these processes carried out in a vacuum cleaner? Let’s look at the technical side of the issue and learn about the main stages in the operation of the vacuum cleaner: navigation, cleaning and recharging.
The navigation system is designed to help the device navigate in space and move freely around the house. It influences on its work, where the robot can get stuck, get lost, miss dirt, etc. There are several types of navigation systems: navigation through built-in bumper sensors, external sensor navigation, laser navigation, and camera navigation. It should be noted that several types of navigation can be combined in one vacuum cleaner – one as the main type and the second as an additional one for better performance. Let’s consider the principle of operation of these methods.
Navigation through the sensors permits the robot to receive signals from sensors installed directly in its bumper. The vacuum cleaner captures a change in its surrounding space and makes the necessary decision on how the cleaning will continue.
For example, if there is nothing on the way, then the device can increase the speed of movement, and if it sees an obstacle, it can slow down and or change the direction. Dirt is also fixed – the robot cleans the dirtiest areas more intensively. Navigation capabilities, in this case, depend on the number and types of sensors, the speed of signal processing, capacity and speed of the memory of the robot. Manufacturers can program different motion algorithms (back and forth or spiral movement) supported by the likes of aduk gmbh for great embedded hardware solutions.
The second type of navigation is very similar to the first, but in this case, the robot uses external devices to orient and conditionally divide the room into zones for faster and better cleaning. These sensors are divided into beacons and virtual walls. The first is a small plastic box that sends an invisible infrared beam. The beacon sends two additional beams which guide the robot into the room, and the main infrared beam makes the device to move to the next room. The virtual wall barriers send the robot a signal to turn around and change the direction of cleaning.
Navigation with lasers is now considered to be the most advanced. It works as follows: the vacuum is equipped with the laser rangefinders, which record the distance to various objects and, thus, make a room map in the memory of the device. After that procedure, the robot remembers the geometry of the room and moves in the space along the clearly marked straight lines.
If manufacturers want their vacuum cleaner to navigate with a camera, then they install it on the top panel of the robot. It gets information about the robot location from the ceiling and walls.
The main task of any vacuum cleaner is to carefully collect all the garbage and dirt on its way. To do this, it uses certain equipment and algorithms of actions that don`t usually significantly vary in different models. The principle of dry cleaning is as follows: a brush or several brushes that are fixed on the sides sweep all the dust, fur, hair, and dirt from the corners or under the furniture to the central brush.
Many people assume that the cleaning is carried out due to the engine, which sucks all the dirt, but in fact, brushes play a major role in the operation of the device. They perform the function of a broom, collect and direct the debris to the garbage container. Depending on the material and design of the brush, it can collect large particles, hair, pet fur, sand, etc.
After that, the dirt is pressed by the air flow. The remaining air goes through the filters and comes out. The purity of the blown air depends on the quality of the filter. Modern robot vacuum cleaners can hold up to 99.9% of dust and allergens. The quality of cleaning also depends on suction power.
That`s way before buying a robot vacuum cleaner you should pay attention to these two factors. If we talk about wet cleaning, the principle of operation, in this case, is very similar to the dry cleaning, except the fact that after collecting dry rubbish the robot sprays water from a special tank on the floor and rubs the floor with a brush. Then dirty water is sucked into a special container.
For its autonomous work, the robot cleaner uses Lithium-ion battery power. The higher the volume of the battery, the longer the vacuum cleaner does its job. The standard runtime of the robot is about 100-120 minutes. To restore the charge, the robots use not a socket, but a special charging station located on the floor.
When the battery is discharged, the robot ends work and turns on the base search mode for recharging. The base sends the robot an infrared navigation beam, upon detection of which the device begins the approach and docking with the base. The robots equipped with the camera or laser navigation systems memorize the location of the station, and later after the end of cleaning they search for it on the map. Such a system contributes to a faster return of the robot to charging. The recharging time varies from 4 to 6 hours.
Nowadays, there are many companies that produce and vend robot vacuum cleaners. All of them offer a wide range of models that don`t significantly differ from each other neither in the design nor in the operation algorithms. However, an understanding of the principles of operation of the robot cleaner is very important for the correct choice of model. The vacuum cleaner should not only be of high quality but also meet all the requirements of the owner. To better understand which model is best for you, you can also search for comparisons on blogs.