Human Factors Engineering

Machines in a World of Humans

Human Factors in Robot Vacuums

by enJINGneering

Vacuuming has always been a chore that caused much sweat, suffering and sound. But in this day and age, we are lucky enough to have robots that can do the job for us. These robots clean many types of flooring and don’t require much supervision or produce much noise. However,  do they do as good of a job as a human with a vacuum?

From personal experiences with a iRobot Roomba at home, I am able to testify that robot vacuum cleaners are pretty efficient and able to sweep up much dust and debris from the floor. They do a more thorough job in a shorter amount of time that my family is capable of achieving. These bots are most ideal for hardwood floors and carpeted floors but can also be used on tile and rugs. The robots are able to recognize what flooring they are on and adjust the speed and suction strength accordingly. Human factors designers have created this so that user don’t need to continuously set the robot to different “modes” to match the floor. This versatility makes them useful around the entire house.

An iRobot Roomba on carpet. Retrieved from https://www.ideahacks.com/best-robot-vacuum-cleaners/.

A Eufy RoboVac on hardwood floor. Retrieved from https://theslanted.com/2017/09/27702/eufy-robovac-11-review-best-robot-vacuum/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autonomy is incredibly important in robot vacuum cleaners and human factors design. These bots are expected to be pretty nimble and able to navigate around furniture on their own. This is achieved by using different sensors. Touch sensors are pretty sensitive and will change directions if they feel a light tap from hitting the wall or objects such as couches and the trashcan. Laser Distance Sensors (LDS) attempt to sense these objects before the robot even touches them in order to protect the furniture from scratches or marks. Both of these sensors are pretty sensitive and help the robot avoid knocking anything down or getting stuck in one spot. This is also a safety feature to protect small children or pets. This feature also allows the robot to clean autonomously because users do no have to continuously guide the robot. Another important sensor is one that tells the robot when it is at a ledge and at risk of dropping. This keeps the robot vacuum cleaner from falling down stairs which could lead to injury or damage.

High tech sensors of the Xiaomi Robot Vacuum Cleaner. These sensors allow the robot to scan and map out entire interior of a room. Retrieved from https://wccftech.com/xiaomi-mi-robot-vacuum-cleaner-299-99/.

There are still some drawbacks of robot vacuum cleaners. Due to their round shape that is common of robot vacuums, it’s difficult for these bots to clean up certain areas of the room that are hard to get to, including corners of the room and legs of tables. However, most have brushes that extend from under the robot to sweep up dust from those areas into the suction passage. In addition, because of the emphasis on keeping the noise level low, many of the robots do not have noise signifiers for low battery or after they have completed a room. These are important because it’s autonomous purpose has allowed owners to turn the robot vacuums on and forget about them. But because most of these robots are unable to self charge or open doors, they need human guidance in these specific situations. However, visual indicators may not be enough especially if the users are not in the room and therefore, louder noise indicators should be included to produce a more effective notification and faster action.

Other features of robot vacuum cleaners that users find useful is connected to the user control. Depending on the bot, owners can connect and control the robots through smartphone apps, remote controls and even Amazon’s Alexa. These simplify the vacuuming process and allows users to just press a button or use vocal commands to start the robot and then step back. Users can also set a schedule for the robots to run at certain times every day. These vacuums have also proved to be a lot quieter than traditional vacuum cleaners and are very easy to clean. These robots are also wireless and avoid safety hazards that come with wires, especially long ones that stretch across rooms and hallways that are typical of traditional vacuums. Now, even the littlest of kids can watch these vacuums do their job in safety and joy.

Sources:

The Best Robot Vacuums. (n.d.). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-robot-vacuum/

The Eufy RoboVac 11 and 11c are our Favorite Robot Vacuums. (2017, September 12). Retrieved April 05, 2018, from https://theslanted.com/2017/09/27702/eufy-robovac-11-review-best-robot-vacuum-2017/

13 Comments

  1. I remember seeing these gadgets on TV advertisements and being mesmerized as a young girl. The idea of having a tiny autonomous device vacuum my house with out me having to a muscle (except to turn it on) seemed surreal, and until now I had always assumed it was too good to be true. After reading your analysis on the robot vacuum I have completely changed my opinion. It really seems to have countless assets (from sensors that help it avoid crashing into furniture and falling down stairs, to functions that allow the owner to connect and control the robot via smartphone apps). Something I was worried about was its inability to clean corners and other hard-to-reach spots, but you mentioned some of the vacuums have special extensions to sweep the dust out of corners, which is a great addition. Overall, I think this would be a very beneficial device and a simple solution for house owners who don’t have enough time to vacuum the floor themselves.

    • Really amazing device for especially women .. i am planning to buy the same and looking now a days on reviews. Definitely i ll choose multifunctional.

  2. I agree with you. The use of vacuum cleaners has made home cleaning task much easier. There are a variety of vacuum cleaners available today depending upon the usage and work complexity. The advancement of technology has led to the invent of robot vacuum cleaners that are more efficient and easy to handle.

  3. This was a really nice post. In idea, I would like to put in writing like this additionally? taking time and actual effort to make a very good article.

  4. The noise level of the robot vacuum is the problem for charges. However, now autonomous charging systems overcome this problem.
    Robot vacuum round shape size sometimes not able to collect dirt from the corner and also table or sofa legs.
    But it’s brushing are extend and collect the dirt from those spaces easily.
    On the other hand, the robot vacuum works individually thus you find it very helpful.
    The price of the robot vacuum is not too much.

  5. I recently bought the Xiaomi Robovac for my home. It is doing a great job except making some noise while cleaning. Hope, the companies start to make noiseless vacuum cleaners in the future.

  6. I agree with you. The use of vacuum cleaners has made home cleaning task much easier. There are a variety of vacuum cleaners available today depending upon the usage and work complexity. The advancement of technology has led to the invent of robot vacuum cleaners that are more efficient and easy to handle.

  7. Yes, this era of technology made our life much easier. These robotic vacuums and the engineering behind it, taken our home cleaning experience to the next level. Thanks for adding this well-explaining diagram of the sensors, it is explaining to us a lot. I understand, these are the sensors that are working behind a robotic vacuum cleaner and give us a neat and fresh floor.
    The robot vacuums of the era, this makes our life much easier.

  8. Keep working at these incredible posts, great job! I love Roombas!

  9. Very informative article. No doubt the Robot Vacuums have made the job of cleaning very easy, as we don’t have to bother much, they on their own does every thing. With the new mapping technologies being embedded in Robot vacuums have completely changed the game.

  10. love to see the way you have shared the info dear. This is really loving it.

  11. You are right. Robot Vacuums have made our life much easier. They come with very powerful sensors that can vacuum everything without any human intervention. Roomba is one of my favourites.

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