New generation of robot vacuum cleaners are here! Hundreds of improvements have been made including self emptying and multi surface optimized vacuum cleaners. One of these revolutionary features of the newer generation robot vacuums is called “smart navigation”. Smart navigation refers to the ability of the robot vacuum cleaner to actively create a map of your household and clean according to your preferences.
Robot vacuum cleaners with self navigation features can clean a room of your choice, stay out of areas you deem sensitive such as electronics, fragile items or places where you store your musical instruments. Smart navigation has become a must for the newer generation models which want to stay in the competition, as it gives a definite edge over the older models which employ no mapping technology.
Since its first introduction to the market by Neato XV-11 smart navigation technology has developed and branched out considerably. Two main technologies employed frequently are called VSLAM and LiDAR.
vSLAM vs LiDAR
While we can not say any one of these are better than the other, we can give you a quick rundown of their features so that you can make a more educated choice.
vSLAM stands for Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. The VSLAM technology employs a camera to gather data all around your house and create a map. It can recognize and analyze any obstacles and alter the map accordingly. Downsides of this technology include the fact that it is not very effective in dark and dimly lit areas as they depend on a conventional camera. It has also been observed that the robot vacuum cleaners that use VSLAM technology only create maps slower as they need to go through the same places more than once to establish a map. But this does not mean they are the inferior option.
One of the biggest strengths of VSLAM is the fact that cameras are exceptionally efficient at gathering data. VSLAM can utilize its camera to decide what actually is an obstacle, and what is a false obstacle such as a power cord running through the floor or a curtain.
LiDAR on the other hand stands for Light Detection and Ranging. Contrary to vSLAM it utilizes lasers. Combining lasers with radar technology it can measure distance and create a map of your house by shining invisible lasers near the floor. LiDAR excels in speed as it is by far more effective on mapping the terrain of your home. One round around your home and it creates an accurate map with all the obstacles marked.
LiDAR technology may look obviously superior but in everyday use it actually has quite a few negative quirks. The laser technology falls behind in data collection compared to cameras. This leads to robot vacuum cleaners which employ LiDAR solely falling behind in obstacle recognition technology as they can easily mistake curtains or table sheets for solid walls.
A Modern Approach to an Old Problem
The dilemma of VSLAM vs LiDAR have been puzzling customers since their introduction in the last generation while picking their new robot maid, but the new generation might bring an end to this competition.
Latest products have a newer method of mapping which employs both VSLAM and LiDAR to optimize the route. Using LiDAR for navigation and VSLAM for obstacle recognition it makes the perfect robot cleaner. Implementing both of these features also enables advanced AI options for the future.
Considering the newest releases, we can safely say that this harmony of former rivals will definitely be the way of the future.