Walter Shillington writes about products he knows firsthand. His articles focus on healthcare, electronics, watches, and household items.
If you're a pet owner, a robotic vacuum is practically a must-have item. Each morning my robot roams quietly around the house collecting dust and discarded cat hair. It even manages to suck up the flakes of pastry falling from the Vachon cakes devoured as I binge-watch Netflix.
Over the years, these devices have improved in almost every way. They clean better, work faster and more quietly, reliably maneuver in cramped spaces, and climb over challenging obstacles.
When it comes to washing floors, however, improvements have arrived painfully slowly. The first mopping robots included a damp mop pad which was dragged beneath the device. Then manufacturers added a water tank that could temporarily replace the robot's dustbin. In later versions, the tanks were placed elsewhere, allowing floors to be simultaneously vacuumed and mopped. It was not until recently that improvements to navigation systems allowed exclusions zones, preventing robotic vacuums from trying to mop carpets and rugs.
Because a mop pad and bracket firmly affixed to the bottom of a robot would significantly impede the vacuum's mobility, traditional mop brackets are designed to swing upward. When a robotic vacuum traverses the threshold between each room, pressure from below forces the bracket to rise. This provides increased ground clearance, usually allowing the robot to continue forward. This design reduces maneuverability issues, but, unfortunately, the lightweight mopping bracket does not apply sufficient downward pressure to clean effectively.
Robots equipped with navigation systems can be programmed to avoid rugs and carpets when mopping. While this is a convenient feature, areas not mopped will not be vacuumed.
The robotic vacuum under test today has incorporated several innovations that Roborock claims will solve these problems. Are they correct? Read on and find out.
The Roborock S7 arrived packed within a cardboard box along with a power cord, charging dock, mop cloth, mop mount, and a user's guide. This robot is slightly less than 14 inches across, rises 3.8 inches, and weighs about 10 pounds.
Six cliff sensors located beneath the robot ensure it will not inadvertently tumble down a set of stairs. Another sensor uses ultrasonic sound to identify the presence of a carpet or rug. This is used in conjunction with the mechanism that lowers and raises the mopping bracket.
A plastic bumper, which wraps around the vacuum's front, covers a series of mechanical switches. When the robot brushes against an object, one of these hidden switches will activate, directing the robot to back away and edge around the obstruction. A vertical bumper, mounted atop the Lidar turret, serves the same purpose.
An infrared wall sensor ensures the robotic vacuum reduces speed as it approaches walls and large pieces of furniture.
A rapidly spinning laser, used to provide navigational support, is housed within the top-mounted turret. The robot's dustbin, reset button, and Wi-Fi indicator can be accessed by lifting the device's top cover.
This model incorporates a system that raises its mop from the floor's surface when traversing carpets and rugs. A second mechanism induces the mop to vibrate, increasing its ability to clean.
The Roborock S7 can be started, sent home, or ordered to spot clean by pressing the appropriate button located on the vacuum's upper surface. A long press of the spot-clean button activates its child lock.
This device works best when used in conjunction with the Roborock application. If you wish to control this robot with Amazon Alexa, the Roborock Plus skill must also be linked.
Located at the bottom of this device are the charging contacts and battery compartment. The 5200mAh Li-ion battery can power this robotic vacuum for up to three hours.
The Roborock S7 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 main brush is composed of rubber. During my tests, this upgraded brush picked up significantly more debris than robotic vacuums fitted with the older version. The Roborock's rate of suction maxes out at an impressive 2500PA.
A removable 300-milliliter water tank fits into the rear edge of the robot. The mop pad and mount must be attached beneath the tank when the S7 is used to wash floors.
- Manufacturer: Roborock
- Model: S7
- Product size: 353 x 350 x 96.5 millimeter (13.9 x 13.8 x 3.8 inches)
- Net weight: ≈4.5 kilograms (10 pounds)
- Color: White/black
- Includes dock: Yes
- Scheduling: Yes
- Voice control: Alexa
- Navigation: LDS Max
- Max Suction: 2500Pa
- Power: 68W
- Dust bin capacity: 470 milliliters
- Filter: Washable
- Water tank capacity: 300 milliliters
- Run-time: 180 minutes (without mop bracket)
- Battery: 5200mAh
- Vacuuming area: 300sqm
- Mopping area: 200sqm
- Charging time: ＜6 hours
- Obstacle crossing ability: 2 centimeters (0.8 inch)
- Noise level: 67dB (Balanced Mode)
- Cliff Sensors: 6
- Compatible with Auto-Empty Dock: Yes
- Mop type: Sonic vibration mopping
- Max mop bracket vibration frequency: 3000 times/min
- Auto-lifting mop: Yes (5 millimeters)
- Mop pressure: 600g
- Carpet detection: Yes
- Brush type: All rubber/floating
- Carpet boost mode: Yes
- Multi-level mapping: 4 maps
- Room/Zone cleaning: Yes
- Real-time mapping: Yes
- Virtual barriers and no-go zones: Vacuuming and mopping
- Cleaning pattern: Z-shaped
- Cleaning/mopping path display: Yes
- Carpet display in app: Yes
Roborock is trademarked by Beijing Rockrobo Technology Co., Ltd., which was founded in July 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.
Navigation, Carpet Identification and Mapping
This robotic vacuum is equipped with LIDAR (light detection and ranging). A turret-based laser mounted on top of the robotic vacuum illuminates objects to assist in determining their location, size, shape, and distance.
An ultrasonic sound sensor, located beneath the robot, performs a similar task, identifying areas of the floor which are covered by a carpet or rug.
This information is used to compile a map of the cleaning area. The first time I ran the Roborock S7, it vacuumed as it slowly but systematically made its way around the house. Once the first cleaning was completed, the resulting map included every room. Carpets and rugs were identifiable as slightly darker areas on the application's floor plan.
The Roborock Application
This program allows a smartphone to monitor and control the Roborock S7. It provides the ability to read the maps produced by the vacuum and adjust specific parameters. The operator can set barriers and exclusion zones that take effect while vacuuming or mopping. Suction and mop vibration rates can be set individually for each room.
A robotic vacuum's usefulness depends on the device's ability to start automatically, effective vacuum/mop its cleaning area, and then return to its dock.
While robotic vacuums will sometimes sandwich themselves between the floor and a couch or cabinet, this did not prove to be a problem with the Roborock S7.
Thresholds—the strip of wood at the bottom of doorways where rooms connect—are sometimes too high for a robotic vacuum to cross. This difficulty is more likely to be encountered when a mop is attached to the robot. The Roborock S7 automatically lifted its mop bracket during these situations and was able to navigate every threshold within my house without difficulty.
Several rugs were used to test the ability of the Roborock. The vacuum played well with the thick and heavy mat located in my living room and my well-secured Turkish rug.
This robot is equipped with a powerful 5200mAh lithium battery and can operate for up to 180 minutes.
It takes about 41 minutes to vacuum and mop the first floor of my medium-sized house. After the job was completed, the battery's level had dropped to 76 percent.
As the vacuum enters each room, it circles and begins to edge clean. Then it changes to a Z pattern, sucking up the debris it encounters. The Roborock application can be used to order the robot to tackle a specific room or spot clean particularly dirty areas.
This vacuum may be scheduled to start at a specific time each day. It can also be controlled using Alexa, the Roborock application, or by simply pushing the start button located at the top of the vacuum.
Once the mop bracket is installed, this robot automatically enters its mopping mode. While cleaning in this mode, the device simultaneously vacuums and mops.
When not traversing a carpet or rug, the mop will remain in its lower operating position, maintaining 600 grams of pressure against the floor. Vibration may be turned off or set to the desired rate.
Water is fed to the mop from a 300-milliliter tank. This was more than enough water to mop the main floor of my house twice.
The software that runs this robotic vacuum is quite sophisticated. When the robot reached the Turkish carpet located in my dining room, it raised the mop five millimeters from the floor, completely circled the outskirts of the carpet, and began a z-pattern. Once the mat was vacuumed, the robot lowered its mop and reverted to its regular cleaning pattern.
The combination of extra weight behind the mop and its rapid vibration performed far better than merely dragging a damp rag beneath a vacuum.
Occasionally a stubborn stain fails to be entirely eliminated by one pass of the robotic vacuum. Happily, the spot cleaning function of the Roborock S7 works extraordinarily well.
What most impresses me is this robot's ability to competently mop a floor without becoming stuck while traversing from room to room.
This device is exceptionally agile, vacuums well, and benefits from excellent battery life. Its navigational system and ability to map ensure that even large cleaning areas are vacuumed quickly and competently. The Roborock S7 Robotic Vacuum is strongly recommended.
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.
© 2021 Walter Shillington