Roomba, a series of autonomous vacuum cleaners released by iRobot, have been on the market in various forms since 2002, and remain a popular choice for many people.
Beginning as pretty standard autonomous devices, the latest models of Roomba can use artificial intelligence and scanning technology to map out the desired space so as to avoid obstacles, walls, and furniture.
iRobot was formed in Delaware, United States in 1990 by founders Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle, and Helen Greiner, as a means of producing consumer robotics.
Based in the consumer and military sectors, iRobot had a revenue stream of $1.214 billion US dollars, as of 2019.
iRobot has four robotic models in their current consumer range. These include Roomba, Braava (a floor mopping robot), Create (a robot for hobby roboticists), and Root, a robot designed to help children understand coding.
How Roomba Works
Roombas are driven using 2 independently-operating wheels, which can propel it forwards, backwards, and in a 360 degree rotation.
Sensors on the wheels inform Roomba how fast they are spinning, as well as if the wheel is too low (if it was stuck), and the undriven spinning caster wheel on the front is also an additional sensor which acts as a rotary encoder.
Roomba has a relatively small brush head of around 5-8 inches, and whilst far smaller than the average vacuum cleaner, Roomba also has rotating multi-pronged brushes to brush dirt into the path of the main head.
Due to its random algorithm, Roomba can take a lot longer to vacuum than a human would, further hampered by the small brush head.
However, modern examples incorporate an infrared floor-facing sensor that can map a target space and identify obstacles and viable waypoints, with the presence of light in the room.
They also have bumpers, which act as additional sensors and can recognize obstacles or ledges, allowing them to adapt accordingly.
Roombas are not suitable for deep pile carpeting, and their brushes can get stuck on rug tassels or power cords, although more recent models can automatically reverse their brushes to become untangled.
Their dimensions mean they can fit underneath most beds and items of furniture. If their sensors detect that they are stuck or about to become trapped in small or narrow spaces, Roomba will then sound an alarm so you can come and find it.
Similarly, modern models will use a synchronized voice to announce impending problems, as well as suggesting potential solutions to assist the user.
Related: Are Roombas Worth It?
Before You Vacuum
To ensure a properly cleaned space, first select “clean all” on the device.
Next ensure the room is properly lit, and select “edge cleaning” so that the exterior of the room is also accounted for.
Maintenance & Cleaning
Like most regular vacuum cleaners, Roomba requires regular cleaning to continue working. Even more so than regular vacuums, Roomba can become clogged with hair and dust, made worse by the small size of the device.
This does however take a lot less time than regular upright vacuum cleaners, as the small size makes it a simpler job.
Should Roomba break or malfunction, iRobot widely stocks replacement components, even for the first generation that was released around 20 years ago. Unlike traditional vacuums, this means that the same Roomba can be updated and restored when problems occur.
Cleaning Roomba Filters
When it comes to cleaning your Roomba, there are 4 basic steps that must be followed. These will ensure a longer lifespan, and continued efficacy when it comes to cleaning.
The first step is to remove the dustbin and empty it. Most sellers recommend doing this after every clean cycle, both for continued performance, and the fact that the bin itself is smaller and easily filled.
The next step is to remove the filter inside of the bin.
Remove the initial debris of dust and hair, before using warm water to rinse away all of the clogged hair and dirt.
Of course, water and electronics are never recommended, which means that after cleaning, it is important to leave the filter to completely dry before reinstalling it inside Roomba.
Somewhat ironically, the filter is one of the most important components within Roomba, despite being one of the few that aren’t electronic or automated. This means that care and attention are paramount, and regular cleaning schedules should be implemented.
Depending on your volume of use, this could be once a week, just to ensure functionality.
The Brushes & Wheels
Hair can also get caught in the brushes, so these too need to be regularly cleaned.
If hair or string has become wrapped around the rotary brush, gently unwind them, or use your fingers or a comb to unpick the tightly wound hair and throw it in the trash.
The wheels have the same problem, and stray hairs can become wrapped around the bearings, causing potential problems if not removed.
The same techniques can be used to remove the hair, as can any tool that you might have to hand at the time of cleaning.
These are obviously important to maintaining the effectiveness of Roomba’s mapping skills, and as such they need regular cleaning too.
This can be done with cotton swabs to remove any dirt and grease that might have been picked up by the sensors. The same can be done with the front wheels, which can be gently removed, cleaned and reconnected in the same way.
And there we have it, everything you need to know to properly clean and maintain your beloved Roomba.
The most important thing to remember is that regular cleaning and maintenance will not only ensure the longevity of the vacuum, but will also keep it working at peak performance and efficiency, ensuring your home is always clean and tidy.
Your Roomba will thank you later!