Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
Robot Vacuum Technology Advances Quickly
Every time I review a robotic vacuum cleaner, I note that constant advances in technology have ensured that each device being tested is noticeably more competent than the last.
This article will not only review Roborock’s new S6 Pure but, to illustrate my point, compare it with a Roomba manufactured during the earliest days of the robotic revolution.
While this elderly vacuum spends most of its time in storage, I often drag the Roomba out during the winter months to suck up the salt and tiny pebbles that accumulate in my front porch.
The Roborock S6 Pure
The Roborock S6 Pure weighs just under eight pounds. It spans 13.8 inches and is 3.8 inches high. The vacuum’s body is composed of either black or white plastic.
This robotic vacuum came equipped with a charging dock, power cord, and a cleaning brush. A moisture-proof mat, mop cloth, water tank, and a user’s guide were also provided.
A rapidly spinning laser is housed within a top-mounted turret. The unit’s removable dustbin, cleaning brush, reset button, and Wi-Fi indicator can be accessed by opening a hidden cover. This device can be started or sent home by pressing the appropriate button located on the upper surface of the vacuum. It can also be controlled via Amazon Alexa or by a cellphone-based application.
The Roborock S6 Pure is equipped with a series of sensors, including an accelerometer, odometer, infra-red cliff sensors, and a compass. These ensure the robot will not inadvertently tumble down a set of stairs and help it avoid obstacles. A LIDAR system provides navigational support.
This vacuum maneuvers throughout a room, powered by a pair of large spring-loaded drive wheels. A sturdy caster is utilized to provide balance and the ability to change direction.
A side-brush sweeps debris within reach of the vacuum’s main brush, which quickly grabs this material and deposits it into the dustbin. The Roborock’s rate of suction maxes out at an impressive 2000PA.
Located at the bottom of this robot are the charging contacts and battery compartment. The 5200mAh Li-ion battery will power this robotic vacuum for about two and a half hours.
A removable water tank fits beneath the rear edge of the Roborock S6 Pure. This 180-milliliter container is equipped with two tiny and replaceable filters and a manual switch intended to control water flow. Its mop cloth, which is also replaceable, attaches to the bottom of the tank.
The Roborock’s competition in this test is iRobot’s second-generation Roomba 401. Its weight and dimensions are roughly equal to that of the Roborock, and it came with an AC adapter and a charging station. This robot is equipped with a side-brush and an extremely well-designed main brush.
- Manufacturer: Roborock
- Model: S6 Pure
- Color: Black (White is also available)
- Weight: 3.2 kilograms (7 pounds)
- Diameter: 35 centimeters (13.9 inches)
- Height: 9.65 centimeters (3.8 inches)
- Battery: 5200mAh lithium-ion; 14.4 volts; 58 watts
- Battery charging time: 4 – 5 hours
- Battery run time: 150 minutes
- Dock: Input (100-240VAC); Output 20VDC 1.2A
- Dustbin: 460ml (15.6 fluid ounces)
- Water tank: 180ml (variable flow)
- Scheduling: Yes
- Voice control: Amazon Alexa
- Suction power: 2000PA
- Coverage: 250 square meters (2690 square feet)
- Navigational system: LIDAR
- Mapping: Yes. Includes exclusion zones
- Cleaning technique: Suction, main brush, side brush, and mop
- Carpet boost: Yes
- Climbing ability: 0.8 inch (2 centimeters)
- Filter: E11 rated, washable
- Accessories: Recharging base, cleaning brush, moisture-proof mat, mop cloth, water tank, and user’s guide
Roborock is trademarked by Beijing Rockrobo Technology Co., Ltd., which was founded in 2014. This company specializes in the research, development, and production of robotic home cleaners. Roborock is based in Beijing, with R&D and branch offices in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Their latest product is the Roborock S6 Pure.
The Roborock S6 Pure is equipped with LIDAR (light detection and ranging). A turret-based laser, mounted on the top of the robotic vacuum, 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 is used to build an accurate map and to guide the unit as it travels from room to room.
My Roomba was manufactured well before navigational systems were designed for use in robotic vacuums.
The Roborock Application
The Roborock application allows a smartphone to be utilized as a remote control. More importantly, it provides the ability to read the map produced by the vacuum and adjust specific parameters. The operator can set suction levels, barriers, and exclusion zones.
The usefulness of a robotic vacuum depends on the device’s ability to start automatically, effectively vacuum its cleaning area, and then return to its dock.
The Roborock managed to avoid being sandwiched and trapped between the floor and the bottom of various pieces of furniture. However, it experienced difficulties crossing a furnace air intake grating with holes large enough to trap the robot’s caster. I fixed this problem by setting an exclusion zone using the Roborock application.
To ensure the Roomba 401 did not become trapped, I blocked access to the grate by placing a small table above it.
Thresholds—the strip of wood at the bottom of doorways where rooms connect—are sometimes too high for a robotic vacuum to cross. Both the Roborock and the Roomba navigated quickly between my threshold-separated rooms.
Two rugs were used to test the agility of the Roborock S6 Pure. The vacuum quickly crossed my well-secured Turkish carpet. It pushed around but did not attempt to ingest a thin, towel-like mat.
The Roomba coped well with the Turkish carpet but did become entangled with the lightweight mat.
Charging docks should be positioned in an area where there is room for the robot to maneuver. My Roborock, which incorporates a navigational system, required far less room than the old Roomba.
As the Roborock enters each room, it circles and begins to edge clean. Then it shifts to a Z pattern, sucking up the debris it encounters. The device’s application can be used to set suction levels as well as specify the vacuuming of a specific room or to spot clean a particularly dirty area.
The Roomba circles in a gradually widening pattern until it encounters an obstacle. Then it follows the edge for a while before becoming bored and heading off in a new direction. If the battery lasts long enough, it will, by the power of repetition, eventually clean the entire floor space.
A 180ml tank feeds water to a mop pad fitted below the Roborock S6 Pure. Located on the tank is a switch which selects one of two different drip rates.
Roborock included a plastic drip pad that can be mounted just forward of the charging unit. Because water will drip continuously, the tank should be removed when mopping operations are complete.
The LIDAR navigational system, in conjunction with the Roborock application, allows exclusion zones to be set, ensuring the robotic vacuum avoids rugs and carpets while it is mopping.
If the ability to mop is a feature that interests you, take a close look at this robot’s sibling, the Roborock S5 Max. This robotic vacuum boasts a larger water tank, and its drip rate can be controlled via the Roborock application. More importantly, the included software allows for the selection of one map designed for vacuuming and a completely separate map intended for use while mopping.
The Roomba 401 is not equipped to wash a floor, but iRobot does manufacture standalone robotic mops.
The Roborock S6 Pure is equipped with a 5200mAh lithium battery and operates for up to 150 minutes on a single charge. This vacuum can clean my medium-sized house in 40 minutes, depleting the battery by only 25 percent.
I replaced the 14.4V, 3.5Ah Ni-MH battery in my Roomba 401 about two years ago. At that point, it would power the robotic vacuum cleaner for over 90 minutes. Sadly, it will now only last for 22 minutes. Battery technology has improved considerably over the last 18 years.
The Roborock S6 Pure is fitted with a replaceable and washable high-efficiency filter. The Roomba 401 also comes with a washable filter.
The Roborock S6 Pure performs exceptionally well and, because of its agility and ability to take advantage of exclusion zones, it can be left unintended while it is cleaning.
Exceptional battery life, combined with the robot’s navigational system ensure that even large cleaning areas are vacuumed quickly and competently. If you are looking for a hassle-free robotic vacuum, the Roborock S6 Pure would be an excellent choice.
© 2020 Walter Shillington