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How Does Robot Vacuum Mapping Work?

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Updated October 10, 2022

Even if you have the perfect vacuum, you may wonder how robot vacuums know the floor plan. Premium robot vacuum cleaners offer multiple types of obstacle sensors and mapping technologies for thorough cleaning performance. Advanced robot vacuum navigation systems offer efficient cleaning routes that maximize battery life and safety requirements. Stick around to learn, “How does robot vacuum mapping work?”


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If your vacuum robot struggles with uneven cleaning sessions, read our guide to robot vacuum troubleshooting. That said, you should learn how long to charge a robot vacuum, so you leave it at the charging station long enough for maximum cleaning time.

Insider Tip

Unlike camera-mapping vacuums, you can run robot vacuum cleaners with infrared light sensors at night.

How Do Robot Vacuums Map Your House?

Robotic cleaning devices map your home in a similar way to how do robot vacuums find their charger. Modern robot vacs use LiDAR and camera-based technology to map your actual floor plan for accurate cleaning patterns. Additionally, high-end models offer smart mapping with smartphone integration.

vSLAM Mapping

vSLAM technology is a form of optical mapping that scans your ceiling and furniture to build a map of your home. Unlike random-navigation models, vSLAM robot vacs clean in straight lines to deliver better coverage and edge cleaning.

This type of mapping tech can struggle with dark walls or carpets and won’t deliver accurate navigation in a dark room. That said, they still have an array of collision sensors and safety features.

LiDAR Mapping

Robot vacuums with LiDAR mapping create accurate smart maps of your home with invisible infrared lasers. The lasers scan your room, mapping potential obstacles like walls and chair legs. LiDAR models offer more advanced mapping technology than vSLAM vacuums but tend to cost more.

LiDAR robot vacs offer advanced features that allow them to return to the exact location they left off before a charging session.

What Other Sensors Do Robot Vacs Have?

Your basic robot vacuum should have a series of additional sensors to keep the unit and your home safe.

Cliff Sensor

Cliff sensors prevent your robot vacuum from falling down a flight of stairs or off a ledge. These sensors bounce infrared light off the floor and change direction when they do not detect a surface.


Your robotic vacuum cleaner may get lost if you move the docking station during a cleaning cycle.

Wall Sensor

Wall sensors use optical or laser sensors to sense walls and barriers in your home.

Bump Sensor

Also called obstacle sensors, bump sensors detect when the robot vacuum hits a wall, kitchen counter, or furniture leg.

STAT: According to iRobot, a fully-charged Roomba should offer a 120-minute battery life and map or clean about 1000 square feet. (source)

How Does Robot Vacuum Mapping Work FAQs

How do I clean a robot vacuum cleaner?

You can use a dry or slightly damp microfiber cloth to clean the outside of your robot vacuum. Cleaning the vacuum helps the advanced sensors function correctly. Additionally, you need clean optical and infrared sensors for accurate mapping and navigation. Lastly, ensure the rotating brush rollers are free from hair to maximize the suction power.

Can robot vacs replace a regular vacuum?

Most robot vacuums cannot replace the powerful suction that a classic vacuum offers. Experts recommend using a full-size vacuum for weekly deep cleaning and letting your powerful robot vacuum perform daily maintenance on your floors.

How many square feet will a robotic vacuum clean?

How much space your vacuum robot can clean depends on the quality of your model. A budget robot vacuum should map around 2000 sq. ft. and clean 1000 sq. ft. on a single charge. High-end models can store up to 4000 sq. ft. and clean 2000 sq. ft. in a cleaning session.
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