Informational Guide

How Does a Roomba Work In Your Home

Learn how these popular robotic vacuums clean your house with ease.


Do you want to learn how a Roomba vacuum cleaner works? One of the things you probably want to learn is how it knows where it has cleaned and where it hasn’t. Well, Roomba is a smart vacuum cleaner that uses artificial intelligence to maneuver around the room. Unlike conventional cleaners, it uses two wheels to move around. The wheel can easily turn in the opposite direction, meaning it cleans any space it drives to. 

Secondly, this robot comes with a rechargeable battery. The vacuum is designed to use as little power as possible such that the robot will work for more than one hour before it requires recharging. 

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How It Works

Roomba cleans a room using a combination of two patterns; wall following and random bounce. Wall following is where the vacuum moves around the wall of your room, cleaning into corners using flailing brushes that are mounted on the side. 

Random bounce is where the robot cleans the room up until it comes across an obstacle. After the obstruction, it moves off again in a random direction. You will also notice that the robot is cleaning large areas at speed and retraces over dirty areas repeatedly. Most of the time, Roomba will follow a random pattern.

Using Sensors

The front side of the Roomba robot vacuum has a photocell sensor and infrared beam. Slightly below, we have a bumper that has touch sensors. The infrared beam detects obstacles and walls when your robot cleaner gets near them. When Roomba hits an object, the sensitive bumper makes it stop. Infrared sensors detect cliffs, which are basically steep drops and stairs. It also prevents brushes from rotating once it feels they might tangle on cables or tassels. The robotic cleaner then steers itself to safety.

A robot should move freely in your room and avoid obstacles so that it can clean your room efficiently. Sensors help to prevent other hazards, discover new areas and measure the area they have already covered.

Roomba 614 steps

Obstacle Sensors

Chairs, legs, sofas, tables, and stray toys are some of the obstructions in our homes. The vacuum has sensors a shock-absorbing bumper that allows it to move through the obstacles without slowing down. If the bumper comes into contact with an object, it triggers sensors. As a result, the robot turns and finds a new way. As it steers away from the obstructions, the robot can leave some areas unclean. To minimize this problem, Roomba will slow down once it approaches an object.

These onboard sensors help the robot to steer clear of obstructions that can cause problems. After finishing, it goes back to the docking station and recharges itself for the next job.

Roomba uses piezoelectric sensors to know when it hits a dirty patch. Ideally, the sensor generates electric impulses when hit by dirt. Excessive impulses make the robotic cleaner to be slow down and be more thorough


Older models of Room like Roomba 560 used an almost entirely random pattern to clean. Therefore, the cleaning was a bit haphazard and took so long. Roomba 980 and other newer models use Vision Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (VSLM). This intelligent approach uses infrared cameras to build up a picture of your room so that the robot can know where it is going and where it has been. 

The robot, therefore, cleans more quickly and thoroughly.  Also, it moves more confidently in a straight line. If the battery is low, it will recharge and pick up from where it left. For example, the iRoomba i7+ that replaced the best-selling Roomba 980 boasts of persistent mapping meaning that it can remember the layout of your room in the next cleaning session. This means that future sessions can be more efficient.

Lastly, the latest Roomba models come with Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning you can program them using a smartphone app remotely.