The robot vacuum cleaner is undergoing a renaissance this year as all the major manufacturers figure out new and more outlandish ways to make the tiresome chore of cleaning your floors fully automated.
At the IFA 2023 tech trade show in Berlin this week, robot vacuums were literally roaming the halls as companies showed off their latest innovations. We saw robot mops that integrate into your plumbing, big advances in navigation, smaller sizes for multi-function docking stations, and a robot mop that can do the splits to clean your baseboards better.
Here’s a rundown of the latest innovations in robotic floor cleaning we spotted at IFA this week.
It’s hip to be square
Square-shaped robots can clean better in corners and along edges but traditionally have more trouble with navigation. Ecovacs thinks it has cracked this with its latest model.
The X2 is a complete redesign of the Deebot X1 Omni, featuring a new shape, a more slimline look, and a toweringly high suction power (8,000 Pa) and mop lift capability (15mm). The automatic dock that empties the bin, washes and dries the mops and drains, and refills the robot’s water tank, is also more slender.
Ecovacs also claims to have vastly improved the navigation system and AI-powered obstacle avoidance capabilities on the X2, with a new dual-laser lidar technology.
The biggest change is that it can now “dynamically avoid” obstacles, choosing a new path when it gets interrupted, rather than constantly trying to go back to where its current path told it to go.
The new navigation system means the X2 can dispense with the lidar tower on top, as its lasers are built into the sides, making its profile lower and better able to get under low furniture.
This bot can do the splits
Dreame Technology also has a new flagship bot, the DreameBot L20 Ultra ($1499.99 / £1199 / €1199). It launches today, September 1st, and is its first robot vacuum mop capable of removing its own mops to avoid getting your carpets wet.
In the Dreame app, you choose whether you want it to avoid carpets while cleaning, raise its two spinning mop heads and go over them, or go back to its dock and remove the mops before vacuuming.
On Dreame’s previous flagship model, the L10S Ultra, you had to pull off the pads manually, which can get messy.
Along with standard flagship features — high suction power (7,000pa), AI-powered obstacle avoidance, and smart mapping — the L20 has another neat trick. Its mops can do the splits to get deeper into the corner of a room. A new MopExtend tech uses sensors to identify corners and edges and extend its mops out to the walls to get a closer clean.
Speaking of mopping, the DreameBot now has the option of a water hookup kit to fill the tanks and drain the dirty water automatically, so you don’t have to.
This is similar to the concept SwitchBot showed off this week on its S10 robotic vacuum, which we covered ahead of the show. Dreame’s version requires a large docking station to hold the tanks, whereas SwitchBot’s feature is the compact size of its water pump station.
Better bots for less
As the robot vacs get fancier, we’re seeing prices coming down for some of the prior innovations.
Just before IFA, iRobot launched two new lower-cost mopping auto-emptying robots, and earlier this week Roborock debuted two new options in its Q line at IFA, which bring some of its fancier features to less expensive models.
Yesterday, Yeedi — the low-cost sibling to Ecovacs’ Deebot line — launched the Yeedi Cube for $699.
This is the company’s first vacuum mop with an auto dock that empties the bin, washes, dries the mops, and refills the water. It is also the least expensive model with all these functions.
Yeedi’s other distinction is the size of its auto-dock station. At only 15-inches high, it’s one of the most compact models.
The Yeedi Cube will be available on September 5th at Amazon, Walmart, and yeedi.com. And like most of these brands, Yeedi constantly runs sales, so you’ll likely never pay full price.
Alongside the auto-dock, the Yeedi Cube has other fancy features first seen on more expensive models from Roborock and Ecovacs. It can lift its mop up 8mm to go over carpet, has 4,300Pa suction, and uses sonic mopping to vibrate its pad 2,500 times per minute to scrub the floor. It can also adjust it by 8 degrees to better clean uneven surfaces.
Another smaller bot on show at IFA is SwitchBot’s adorable K10 Plus. A pint-sized vacuum and mop (3.6 inches high and 9.8 inches wide) with a mini auto-empty dock, the K10 Plus costs $499 and is coming in November. (That’s me holding it up over my head with one hand, something I would not try with any other robot vac!).
We’ll be putting all these bots to the test over the coming months and will report back on how effective all this new tech is at doing the real dirty work.
Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge