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Wednesday, September 27, 2023
HomeTechMore mopping, please

More mopping, please


The robot vacuum is experiencing a renaissance this year as major manufacturers discover new and fancier ways to fully automate the tedious task of cleaning floors.

At the IFA 2023 technology fair in Berlin this week, robot vacuums literally roamed the halls as companies showcased their latest innovations. We’ve seen robotic mops that integrate into your plumbing, major advances in navigation, smaller sizes for multi-function docking stations, and a robotic mop that can do the splits to better clean baseboards.

Here’s a roundup of the latest robotic floor cleaning innovations we saw at IFA this week.

The X2 Omni is the new flagship robot vacuum from Ecovacs.

It’s fashionable to be square

After announcing it last month, Ecovacs showed the latest update to its flagship robot vacuum cleaner at IFA. He Deebot X2 Omni it costs €1,399 (no US price yet) and the peculiarity is that it is square.

Square-shaped robots can clean better around corners and edges, but traditionally have more problems with navigation. Ecovacs believes it has achieved this with its latest model.

The X2 is a complete redesign of the Deebot X1 Omni, featuring a new shape, slimmer look, and incredibly high suction power (8000 Pa) and mop lift capacity (15mm). The automatic spring that empties the container, washes and dries the mops and drains, and refills the robot’s water tank is also more stylish.

The X2 has a slimmer profile and features updated Yiko, Deebot’s integrated voice assistant.

Ecovacs also claims to have vastly improved the navigation system and AI-powered obstacle avoidance capabilities in the X2, with new dual-laser lidar technology.

The biggest change is that you can now “dynamically avoid” obstacles, choosing a new path when interrupted, instead of constantly trying to get back to where your current path told you to go.

The new navigation system means the X2 can do without the lidar tower on top, as its lasers are integrated into the sides, making it lower profile and better able to get under low furniture.

The DreameBot L20 Ultra can extend its mops to get closer to the edges.
Image: Dream

This robot can do the divisions.

Dreame Technology also has a new flagship robot, the DreameBot L20 Ultra ($1499.99 / £1199 / €1199). Launching today, September 1, it’s their first robot vacuum capable of removing its own mops to avoid wetting your carpets.

In the Dreame app, you choose whether you want it to avoid carpets while cleaning, lift the two rotating mop heads and walk over them, or return to its base and remove the mops before vacuuming.

The DreameBot L20 Ultra charging base has an automatic emptying container (middle) and two water tanks to hold clean and dirty water (top). A separate kit can connect the dock to plumbing to keep tanks full and cool.

On Dreame’s previous flagship model, the L10S Ultrayou had to remove the pads manually, which can be tricky.

Along with the standard flagship features (high suction power (7000pa), AI-powered obstacle avoidance, and smart mapping), the L20 packs another interesting trick. Its mops can split to reach deeper into the corners of a room. A new MopExtend technology uses sensors to identify corners and edges and extends your mops toward walls for a closer clean.

Speaking of mopping, the DreameBot now has the option of a water connection kit to fill the tanks and drain dirty water automatically, so you don’t have to.

This is similar to the concept SwitchBot showcased this week on its S10 robotic vacuum, which we covered ahead of the show. Dreame’s version requires a large docking station to hold the tanks, while SwitchBot’s feature is the compact size of its water pump station.

The $699 Yeedi Cube alongside the $1,399 Deebot X2 Omni.

Better bots for less

As robot vacuums get more sophisticated, we’re seeing the prices of some of the earlier innovations drop.

Just before IFA, iRobot launched two new lower-cost self-emptying robots and mops, and earlier this week Roborock introduced two new options to its Q line at IFA, bringing some of its more sophisticated features to models less expensive.

Roborock this week added two new models to its more affordable Q lineup.

Yesterday Yeedi, the low-cost sibling to Ecovacs’ Deebot line, released the Yeedi Cube for $699.

This is the company’s first auto-based vacuum mop that empties the bin, washes, dries the mops, and refills the water. It is also the cheapest model with all these functions.

The other Yeedi distinction is the size of its auto docking station. At just 15 inches tall, it’s one of the more compact models.

The Yeedi Cube will be available on September 5 on Amazon, Walmart and yeedi.com. And like most of these brands, Yeedi is constantly making sales, so you’ll probably never pay full price.

The SwitchBot K10 Plus is the smallest robot vacuum I’ve seen, and it could be a good option for small apartments.

In addition to the automatic base, the Yeedi Cube has other sophisticated features first seen on more expensive models from Roborock and Ecovacs. It can lift your mop up to 8mm to get over carpet, has 4300Pa suction, and uses a sonic mop to vibrate its pad 2500 times per minute to mop your floor. You can also adjust it 8 degrees to better clean uneven surfaces.

Another smaller robot on display at IFA is SwitchBot’s adorable K10 Plus. The K10 Plus, a pint-sized vacuum and mop (3.6 inches tall and 9.8 inches wide) with a self-emptying mini base, costs $499 and will arrive in November. (That’s me holding it over my head with one hand, something I wouldn’t try with any other robot vacuum!).

We’ll be putting all of these robots to the test over the next few months and reporting on how effective all this new technology is at doing the real dirty work.

Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

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