How Does A Roomba Work?

Robot vacuum cleaners are a thing straight out of those sci-fi movies that we all love and adore. These miracles of science can somehow navigate through a room and clean it all on their own, with no human intervention! How is this possible?

The thing is, it isn’t that complicated to understand! Today, we are going to make you learn how exactly an iRobot Roomba works, which is one of the top brands of robot vacuum cleaners out there right now. Before we get into the technicalities, let us begin with some basic stuff.

What Exactly is a Roomba?

A compact, robot vacuum cleaner by iRobot, the Roomba series is one cleaner that guides itself automatically around your house and cleans it up. There are many models of the iRobot Roomba, such as the 671 and the 690, all very potent and powerful devices.

How does a Roomba work

Roomba in action: A closer look at how it cleans your home

The Roomba, due to its compact nature, can reach surfaces conventional vacuum cleaners cannot, and can wipe out dirt from the darkest corners of your rooms. The Roomba is a quite battery-efficient device, designed to last around 90 minutes cleaning your house on a single charge before it redocks itself to charge back up.

How does the Roomba exactly work?

A vacuum cleaner robot, as described by the company, iRobot Roomba are devices that are extremely nifty. They work on a set of preprogrammed instructions while using a bit of artificial intelligence to get the job done.

Usually, the Roomba follows a random bounce pattern. If you observe it for a while, you would realize that most of the Roomba’s movements are random. That’s because it is actually like that!

The Roomba works in two fashions- a wall follow pattern, which implies that the robot moves along the walls of your room while cleaning dirt up with its brushes, or it follows the random bounce pattern, which is when it hits a certain obstacle and then just moves in another random direction.

Roombas also use different cleaning modes, such as the dirt detect mode in the Roomba 690 which is incredibly useful to clean those stubborn areas of your house that require more power and cleaning time.

How does a Roomba exactly work


Roombas can be easily connected to your household devices. Most offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, and the iRobot app for smartphones and tablets can be downloaded to use the Roomba in a truly hands-free manner.

If you have Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant, the Roomba can be connected to either of the two to help you achieve those mentioned above. Even when you’re halfway across the world, you can configure the Roomba to start cleaning your home at a fixed time every day, or whenever you feel like it.


The secret to Roomba’s intelligence is the sensors that the device has attached to it. There are two main sensors on the Roomba, the infrared sensor, and the plastic-covered touch detect sensor. The former helps the Roomba to slow down when approaching an obstacle, and the latter detects when the Roomba actually hits an obstacle.

For sensing dirt, the Roomba uses a piezoelectric sensor, which works by generating tiny electrical impulses every time it strikes a patch of dirt. These impulses trigger the dirt detect mode of the Roomba, which force it to spend a bit more time cleaning this patch than any other place.

A similar procedure follows for all other dirt patches.

Some Roomba models come with another interesting sensor, which is called the virtual wall lighthouse. These serve twofold purposes-

  1. They help the device to identify where one room ends, and another begins.
  2. They also act as virtual walls, when you do not want the Roomba to cross a certain point in the room.

thanks to the onboard infrared cameras they have. This helps in reducing cleaning time by about 20 percent as compared to older models, such as the Roomba 560 since the newer ones know what the room looks like.

So, this is how the iRobot Roomba range of robot vacuum cleaners actually work! Pretty interesting, right? So, when are you grabbing your own Roomba?

Last updated on November 30th, 2023

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