Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
Picking the Right Robot Vacuum Can Be Tricky
The robotic vacuum I most liked in 2018 was the Vanigo Smart Robot. Its agility, throughout my test procedure, proved outstanding. The vacuum enjoyed remarkable battery life, and it boasted a gyro-based navigational system.
In 2019, the Samsung Powerbot R7040 was my most notable review subject. This robotic vacuum kept corners noticeably cleaner than its competition and utilized a camera-based navigation system.
This year, I was overwhelmed by the Roborock S5 Max’s LIDAR navigation system, which produced excellent maps for both vacuuming and mopping operations.
Roborock has just released the S6 MaxV. While similar to the S5 Max, this vacuum is fitted with two front-mounted cameras used in conjunction with a Qualcomm APQ8053 processor chip. This setup enables the vacuum to recognize and avoid a range of common robot-trapping obstacles.
If this system functions as advertised, the robot will circle safely around pet waste, food bowls, and all the junk that commonly clutters floors. But: does it work? Is this claim simply junk science well lubricated by snake oil? Read on and find out.
The Roborock S6 MaxV weighs just over eight pounds. It spans 13.9 inches and is 3.8 inches high. A revolving laser and a vertical bumper fit within a turret located at the top of the vacuum. The three deck-mounted pushbuttons can initiate spot cleaning, normal cleaning operations, or send the vacuum back to its dock.
A dustbin, brush tool, reset switch, and WiFi indicator hide beneath the robot’s upper lid.
Located under this robotic vacuum are a pair of large rubber-coated drive wheels, a sturdy castor, side brush, four drop sensors, and the main brush. Two metal contacts charge the battery, which is stored inside a covered compartment.
A water tank fits snugly into the rear edge of the S6 MaxV. This tank feeds water to a mop cloth and its bracket.
The bumper protected section of this robotic vacuum contains a wall sensor, two A1 controlled video cameras, and an infrared fill light.
The 14.4V 5200mAh lithium battery can power the S6 MaxV for up to three hours in silent mode.
The Roborock application allows for the multilevel mapping, and exclusion zones can be set for both vacuuming and mopping operations.
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- Manufacturer: Roborock
- Model: S6 MaxV
- Country of origin: China
- Color: Black
- Weight: 3.7 kilograms (8.2 pounds)
- Diameter: 35.3 x 35 centimeters (13.9 x 13.8 inches)
- Height: 96.5 millimeters (3.8 inches)
- Battery: 5200mAh lithium-ion; 14.4 volts; 66 watts
- Battery charging time: 3 - 4 hours
- Battery run time: 180 minutes (silent mode)
- Dock: Input (100-240VAC); Output 20VDC 1.2A
- Dustbin: 460ml (16 fluid ounces)
- Water tank: 297ml (10 fluid ounces)
- Scheduling: Yes
- Suction power: 2500PA
- Coverage when vacuuming: 300 square meters (3230 square feet)
- Coverage when mopping: 250 square meters (2690 square feet)
- Navigational system: LIDAR
- Avoidance sensors: Stereo A1 cameras as well as wall, bumper, and cliff sensors
- Mapping: Multilevel. Includes exclusion zones
- Cleaning technique: Suction, main brush, and side brush
- Climbing ability: 2 centimeters (0.8 inch)
- Filter: E11 rated, washable
- Voice control: Alexa
- Accessories: Recharging base, cleaning brush, moisture-proof mat, mop cloth, mop mount, spare filter, and user’s guide
Roborock is trademarked by Beijing Rockrobo Technology Co., Ltd. Roborock is based in Beijing, with R&D and branch offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The Roborock S6 MaxV is equipped with LIDAR (light detection and ranging). A turret-based laser illuminates objects to assist in determining their location, size, shape, and distance. The laser rotates at 300 RPM, calculating distance by measuring the time it takes the laser beam to reach an obstruction and be reflected. This information assists in the creation of an accurate map and guides the unit as it travels from room to room.
ReactiveA1 Avoidance System
Two cameras and an infrared light are incorporated into this robot’s front bumper. These cameras provide video information to a Qualcomm APQ8053 processor chip, allowing the S6 MaxV to recognize and avoid many of the obstacles it might encounter throughout its cleaning routine.
Robotic vacuums suffer from a bloody-minded compulsion to push small objects around. Once a cleaning routine is complete, I am typically required to retrieve my cat’s food bowl from some obscure corner. The MaxV is more compassionate. It dislikes shiny metal and clear plastic containers but can safely maneuver around colored plastic or porcelain bowls.
A ceramic ferret placed on my kitchen floor was cautiously circled and labeled pet waste—the Qualcomm processor does not share my taste in art. In the living room, there was less contrast between the color of the floor and the ferret. In this case, the robot unceremoniously pushed the object around.
A power cord (including AC adaptor and both leads) of a laptop, abandoned on the kitchen floor, was circled and properly labeled as wiring.
Recent software/firmware updates have increased the number of items that this camera system can identify. Also, if you wish, you can set it up so that the photograph, taken by the camera can be accessed by the phone application.
The Roborock Plus Application
This application provides the ability to read multilevel maps produced by the vacuum and adjust specific parameters. Barriers and exclusion zones can be set for both vacuuming and mopping operations.
The vacuum safely navigated the thick and heavy mat located in my living room and my well-secured Turkish rug.
A bulky metal grating guards the air intake located within my front foyer. Robotic vacuums often become stuck when they climb onto this covering, and their castor (a wheel used for balance and steering) drops and becomes entrapped within the grating. The S6 MaxV, perhaps because of its A1 cameras, always circled safely around this obstruction.
This robot can cross thresholds—the strip of wood at the bottom of doorways where rooms connect—of up to 2 centimeters (0.8 inches). This ability, along with the vacuum’s sensors and A1 cameras, ensures the robot maneuvers safely around my house.
As the S6 MaxV enters each room, it circles and begins to edge clean. Then the robot switches to a Z pattern, continuing to suck up all debris it encounters. The Roborock application can point the robot toward a specific room or spot to clean particularly dirty areas.
This vacuum may be scheduled to start at a specific time each day. It can also be controlled using the Roborock application, or by simply pushing the vacuum’s start button.
The first time I cleaned the second story of my house, I provided a start position for the robot by temporarily relocating the dock to the same floor. Once the level had been cleaned, and a new map created, I returned the dock permanently to its normal position.
Roborock has made several improvements to its mopping system over the past year.
A 297ml tank feeds water to its mop pad. When the robot is charging at its dock, water flow ceases, and a moisture-proof sheet of plastic prevents the damp mop pad from damaging the floor.
The Roborock application can alter the drip rate of water dispensed from the tank. This adjustment is useful because I’d prefer to use plenty of water on my kitchen tiles but very little on my wooden floors.
This vacuum’s navigational system, in conjunction with the Roborock application, allows for the insertion of exclusion zones, preventing the robot from attempting to wash carpets and rugs.
The S6 MaxV is equipped with a 5200mAh lithium battery and can provide power for up to three hours in silent mode. Available modes consist of Gentle, Silent, Balanced, Turbo, and Max.
My medium-sized house can be cleaned within 41 minutes when the balanced mode is selected. After vacuuming the floors three times in succession, I noticed that the battery level had dropped to 28%.
To be considered successful, a premium vacuum cleaner must not only clean thoroughly but substantially outperform its competition in at least one area.
This robotic vacuum is agile, enjoys an enviable battery life, and does a great job of vacuuming both hard floors and carpets. Its navigational system is the most accurate available, and I am impressed with the combination of software and hardware utilized for floor mopping operations.
The processor-controlled A1 camera system functions well and will continuously improve as Roborock enhances the system’s recognition and avoidance abilities and provides firmware updates. I strongly recommend the Roborock S6 MaxV.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Walter Shillington