Let’s look at the 3 main navigation systems for robot vacuum cleaners: lidar, cameras and gyroscopes. Knowing how they work and their key features will help you choose the best home assistant.
The system uses a laser beam on a rotating platform to measure the distance to surrounding objects. It sends the beam out and measures the time it takes for it to reflect off an object and come back. The robot then uses this information to build a map of its surroundings and determine its location.
- High accuracy. Lidar provides very accurate distance determination and detailed maps of the environment. With proper software support, such models do not clean the same area twice, and are also able to set up virtual walls.
- Reliability. Lidars are perfectly oriented even in complete darkness.
- Practicality. Effective in large spaces and complex environments with multiple obstacles.
- High cost. Lidar is almost never installed in budget models, so you will have to pay more for the technology.
- Dimensions. Lidar is located on top of the robot and takes up a lot of space. Such a robot may not be able to get under some objects.
- Risk of failure. The rotating module with a laser is a mechanical element that is subject to wear and tear and may eventually break, although such cases are rare.
- Possibility of laser reflection. With chrome or mirror coatings, there is a risk of inaccurate mapping.
The robot’s cameras capture images of the environment and use computer vision to analyze them. Using processing algorithms, the robot determines its location and obstacles.
- Relatively low cost. Models with cameras can be found in both mid-range and budget-friendly segments.
- Remote access. Some smart models with an app can provide access to cameras so you could monitor the apartment. Just make sure that the device you’re controlling your robot vacuum with is in good shape. For that, contact experienced pros such as the Big Apple Repair team whenever your phone malfunctions.
- Light Dependency. In low light conditions, the navigation quality of the cameras is degraded.
Gyroscopes measure the angular velocity of the robot’s rotation. Using the rotation data, the robot determines its location and direction of travel.
- Low cost. Most budget models are equipped with gyroscopes, although now they are gradually losing their relevance.
- Size. Like cameras, they do not require vertical space, so models with gyroscopes are better at getting under your furniture and other such objects.
- Lack of accuracy. Gyroscopes can accumulate errors over time, which can lead to inaccurate navigation.
- Limitations in complex environments. In environments with many obstacles, gyroscopes lose a lot of efficiency.
Which navigation system is going to be the best in your case depends on the specific environment. In large spaces with many obstacles, lidar may be the most suitable option due to its high accuracy. The ability to map models with lidar further increases the effectiveness of the cleaning process.
For smaller environments, it makes sense to consider camera navigation. And, of course, gyroscopes can be useful as an additional navigation system, but should be considered only when you’re looking for the most budget-friendly robots.
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