How well does Roomba cover a real room?

I’ve had a Roomba for a few years. One thing I’ve always been curious about it whether it actually does clean the whole room and whether all areas get cleaned equally. So I decided to try a little experiment.

I left Roomba to clean the living room. It took about 40 minutes to complete. And while it was doing it I had a camera tracking its movements. Roomba has a helpful light in the middle that makes doing this quite easy in a dark room. Heres what I got after stacking the 80+ 30 second exposures:

Roomba did bang into the tripod a few times so the images don’t quite align properly! But you can clearly see the tables and stools. The blue ‘circles’ are where the dirt technology kicks in whereby roomba detects some dirt on the floor and spins around to clean it. Roomba apparently decides how long to spend cleaning a room by making an estimation on the room size when it starts, possibly via its IR sensors. Then using its sensors to make 60 decisions per second to ensure it cleans every part of the room according to iRobot.

It seems to do a good job. The photo is a little misleading as Roomba does not move at constant speed. As it nears objects it slows down, similarly when it is cleaning along and edge. Hence we see a lot of activity along the edges of the sofa and less activity in the upper part of the photo where it moves in quick straight lines across the floor.

Is this good enough? Yes. Roomba’s motto (which it will cheerily tell you in demo mode!) is that “It cleans so you don’t have to!”. I started the image above and wen’t to bed. By setting Roomba to clean a room automatically every night or so it will clean the floor area – while you are asleep, or at work.

I’ve been fairly positive to iRobot here so I should counter it with some downsides I’ve noticed to this product! It picks up hair – lots of it, I have longer hair than Min, and we have a cat, you will end up taking the hair out of this every few days, and hair can be tricky to remove fully from the rollers. Though this ability to pick up so much can be viewed as a plus also. Similarly it does now work too well on carpets – it picks up so much fluff that it quickly fills up; so we just use it downstairs on the tile and wooden floors. It does not like cables – it will eat them, get them caught up in its brushes and grind to a halt; possibly after dragging the cables all over the room. Same goes for shoelaces.

I’ve another experiment I’d like to try using a similar approach. Virtual Wall devices are available from iRobot which can be used to stop roomba going through certain areas. By sticking one in an empty room it should be possible to map out exactly how effective these are and just how  wide and long the virtual wall extends for.

There is plenty of scope for taking more interesting pictures with roomba, different camera angles, adding led’s, etc.

One thought on “How well does Roomba cover a real room?”

  1. How interesting! We just bought a Roomba 650 and have been surprised how well it works. But watching it for a few minutes, it seems impossible that it actually covers the entire space. What a cool idea to photograph it. And now my curious mind can rest easy!

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