Growing up with an affinity for vacuums and cleaning, you’d think one would surely grow up to be a robot vacuum advocate, if not first adopter. In fact, I’ve tested several consumer models over the years, all arriving with grandiose promises of a liberating level of autonomous operation supposedly capable of keeping floors tidy – completely unattended – aided by robot technology. The reality was those first several generations of robot vacuums sucked in all the wrong ways, delivering an experience that was anything but convenient. Clunky and clumsy, these devices regularly meandered drunkenly without any observable rhyme or reason, often leaving patches of debris and sometimes seemingly avoiding sections most in need of its attention.
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Back in the technology’s formative years, robot vacs were apt to trap themselves into a corner, tangle themselves on loose items, and regularly become inoperable. They were the real world equivalent of the worst NPC in a video game – just smart enough to get themselves in perplexing situations requiring human intervention. Worst of all, the entire convenience factor was negated by the size of the paltry dust containers equipped across all makes and models, the Achilles heel of all robot vacuums for many years.
So for a long while my feelings for robot vacuums was a great big “ehhh.” It was only when I tested the Roborock S7+ Sonic Mopping Robot Vacuum last year that I became aware of the significant strides that have been made in cleaning capabilities, room and object navigation, customized mapping, and thankfully, automatic dustbin emptying. Roborock’s precise degree of navigation skills, customized mapping, and scheduling abilities had finally offered an experience worthy of dedicating a space for the unit’s dock and made me a believer that these cleaning aids deserved revisiting.
I was especially impressed, since unlike Roborock’s own marketing material showcasing spacious contemporary open-concept rooms, our 1920s-era home is narrow and even occasionally challenging for its bipedal occupants to navigate. The modest dimensions have proved to confound more than a few robot vacuums over the years, but the S7 was the first we could schedule for a morning cleaning and mostly forget for numerous weeks until requiring emptying.
Which brings us to the newly announced Roborock Q Series. Specifically the Roborock Q5+, which we had the opportunity to test ourselves over the span of seven days, a robot vacuum cleaner which subtracts worries about keeping the dustbin clean for up to seven weeks. (Other models include the Q5, Q7, Q7+, Q7 Max, and Q7 Max+; the plus designation indicating the inclusion of a self-emptying bin base, the “Max” indicating a more powerful suction capability.)
From a design perspective, the Q5+ looks for the most part like any other robot vacuum, a puck-like design equipped with an assortment of onboard sensors which give the unit the impressive ability to avoid household obstacles of all shapes and sizes. Much like the similarity in shape shared across electric vehicles, most robot vacs share the same circular shape because it offers the best compromise between navigable mobility and the ability to reach into corners.
And how do the Roborock Q Series robot vacs get around? LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, the same technology many automotive brands use to guide semi or fully autonomous vehicles. The remote navigation and sensing technology uses pulsed laser light to measure any space and the occupying objects within it, essentially operating as the eyes to the vacuum’s mapping brain. Fortunately, the stakes are a bit lower for vacuums navigating wayward socks and furniture compared to cars weaving through traffic. But the use of LiDAR (or PresciSense LiDAR) is vital to the robot vacuum’s efficacy in spaces with an ever-changing landscape, and also helps to prevent it from falling down stairs. And if by chance the Q5 does need help, it automatically sends a notification via app seeking assistance.
Paired with an auto-sensing 2,700Pa max suction vacuum that varies its vacuuming according to the surface it’s traveling upon (and also adjustable using the app) and a rubber bristle brush, the Q5 agitates and sucks up crumbs, pet hair, and dust with insatiable hunger. During our testing we observed the Q5 confidently traverse our bedroom, hallway, and home office without issue, following a pattern that traced along the walls of the room before zig-zagging into the middle sections to clean spaces in their entirety before returning to its auto-empty dock. A credit to Robotrock’s LiDAR technology, we never had to rescue the Q5 from challenging sections, like under dresser legs, office chairs, or an indoor exercise bike, where other robot vacuums would perpetually pirouette in confusion or simply turn off. The high-capacity 5200 mAh Li-ion battery is good for 180 minutes of cleaning time, more than sufficient to cover the layout of the average home.
Which brings us to the best feature, in our opinion, and the one we consider a game-changer when it comes to inviting a robot vacuum into the house: the Q5+ self-emptying function. Unlike models of yesteryear, the Q5+ is capable and considerate enough to not only return to its base station to recharge, but also to empty its collected contents into what the brand calls the Auto-Empty Dock Pure. After every cleaning session and with a short whoosh, the entire contents of the cleaning session empties into a 2.5L dust bag. Rated to filter 99.7% of pollen down to 0.1 microns, the sealed bag will be welcomed by anyone who regularly suffers from allergies and who wants to avoid introducing any polluting plume of dust into the home.
The Roborock Q5+ self-emptying feature, even by itself, elevates the robot vacuum experience, especially in households with pets, children, and allergy sufferers, where the cumulative effects of the Q5+ can improve not only how your home looks, but feels, on a daily basis. Combined with LiDAR navigation, multi-level mapping, and customizable app controls, the sum is an automated cleaning luxury you’ll quickly wonder how you ever lived without.
Roborock specializes in the research, development, and production of robotic home cleaners and other cleaning appliances. The entire Q series is available for purchase in the US, including the Q7+ and Q7 Max+, with early bird discounts for Q5 and Q5+ through May 23, 2022. Purchase any model of the Q series at us.roborock.com.
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