Stair Cleaning Robots
Stair Cleaning Robot! Where do I get one?
Okay, okay! I know that the stairs are the most difficult aspect for any Artificial Intelligence to master. Not only do you need to consider the stair height, width and depth, but then you have to factor in balance as well… but that doesn’t concern us, does it? We just want to know where you can get a stair cleaning robot!
Today we have a growing variety of robotic vacuums that can clean our floors and pick up the dirt which collects under and around our furniture, but throw in a step or stairs and things get a little tricky.
Most robotic vacuum cleaners work by avoiding stairs altogether. Their sensors detect drops and they stop and do an about turn. At the slightest hint of a larger bump into a step at the bottom, they bounce back and forth cleaning as close as they can before resuming their automatic cycle on through the house.
So when are we going to see a robot that can not only clean part of the house but cleans all the surfaces that we walk on?
Well, the wait may not be much longer, though there may need to be some refinement to the overall aesthetics of the product. (Oh, and the price tag needs a little attention too!)
Table of Contents
There have been various attempts at creating vacuums that can clean those hard to reach spots in our homes like the stairs but they are all met with a variety of obstacles that cannot be overcome quickly.
Remember when you were learning to climb or descend stairs? We all began by using our bottoms to bounce down or our hands to climb up. WE had to learn how to manage stairs!
As a way to a short explanation on the mechanics of robotics, think of the gyroscope in your phone that knows if you are holding it horizontally or vertically so the screen rotates accordingly.
Now scale that idea up to include the complexity of that gyroscope to include not only a screen rotation but more importantly to control balance and movement as well as the motor coordination to vacuum at the same time.
This is no mean feat in the evolution of robotics and we are getting closer. You will all remember the amazing robot that Honda produced, Asimo, that walked on stage in 2000. Today it can do far more than it did then.
Honda’s latest statement on their website reads:
Towards 2030, Honda aims to realize its vision to serve people worldwide with the “joy of expanding their life’s potential.”
(http://asimo.honda.com/news/ – 2018.08.06)
2030 is a long way away for a robot that can potentially do what we want to be done for us. To add the latest update about Asimo, it has been retired as of July 2018 in order to concentrate on utilising the advances in other technologies Honda produces, such as in Hospitals and mobility concepts.
If you were to purchase Asimo (you can’t just to be sure) it would set you back a cool $2,500,000 (as suggested by https://www.smashingrobotics.com/thirteen-advanced-humanoid-robots-for-sale-today/ in 2016. That’s quite a bit of money to shell out for something just to clean your stairs!
It may be more cost effective to hire a cleaning company to clean your home for you and you would be cleaning your whole home!
So Asimo is the most advanced humanoid robot on our planet currently, but it serves as an example of how hard it is to create a robot that can do tasks we hardly even consider difficult.
What is in Development Now?
Currently there are a few, less astetically pleasing robots on the market that may be available soon. Let’s look at what is available.
- Incheon University Industry Academic Cooperation Foundation created a stair cleaning robot.
It works by climbing down the stairs and hoovering along each step. Obviously, there are limitations to the size of your steps and whether they are straight or curved, but this prototype is really a forerunner in the contender for stair cleaner.
There is no production for this stair cleaner yet, as there is a search for an investor currently but it seems promising.
- Newsweek ran an article in 2016 (https://www.newsweek.com/alphabet-robot-vacuum-schaft-stairs-google-x-robotics-446691) which detailed a robot that can clean stairs by moving its feet back and forth. It climbed them too, so unlike the stair cleaning robot above, it could pull its own weight up the stairs as it went.
This too is also not available for purchase yet.
- Emvention has a theoretical idea of a robot that can clean stairs (https://youtu.be/8DSh4Y_wyKQ) but as you will note it may not be as easy as the suggested video would have you believe. If you have the time, read some of the comments below the video to understand how weight distribution is the main issue to this design.
Sorry, again only an idea!
I am glad you asked.
In brief, I could say, “I told you at the start that there wasn’t a robotic cleaner that you can purchase which will vacuum your stairs for you.” What I will suggest is the use of our practical guide to viewing your home in an efficient way in order to clean and maintain it effectively.
First you need to think about the layout of your home. The floor area you have and how much of it is on one level. This way you can decide on one of the many suggested robotic vacuums we have reviewed on our site, including the iRobot, BotVac, iLife and DeeBot.
Some have better functions than others and that is why you need to survey your floor area.
Answer these questions:
- Are your floors level?
- Do you have carpets or wood/laminate/tile flooring?
- Do you have rugs?
- Is your furniture low or high from the ground?
- Is your home over two levels?
- Do you need an automatic cleaning cycle?
- Are you normally a tidy person that picks up clothes and toys from the floor once used?
Answering these initial questions will then allow you to choose something which is more suited to your environment. You may need to limit the rooms your automatic robot enters, so may need one which can be programmed to avoid those rooms.
You may have pets, so a regular cleaning cycle will be required often which will require regular cleaning of the bin and filters.
Once you have decided on the type of robotic vacuum for your home the next step would be to tackle the question of your stairs.
Now that your home is being cleaned by a robot vacuum, do you really need that huge vacuum in the cupboard as well?
Of course not!
So it is time to rather look to something light weight and rechargeable. That way, a quick vacuum each day and your stairs are complete.
The Dyson range has two offerings you may wish to consider.
The Dyson V7 Trigger
This is a small handheld vacuum that runs for 30 mins but could be used to quickly clean the stairs and any small corners that your robotic vacuum cannot reach. It is compact, rechargeable and easy to put away, without cords to trip over. Read our review of the Dyson V7 Trigger here
The Dyson Cyclone V10
This is again a cordless vacuum, but is designed for all manner of cleaning. So it is a little more versitle if you need to clean the spare room where your robotic friend hasn’t been yet, or perhaps you have a guest suddenly turning up and you urgently need the room cleaned. It also has a run time of up to 60 mins with a suction equivalent to a corded vacuum!
The Dyson Cyclone V10 also has plenty of attachments so you can get the short version handheld effect but with a better machine. (I think you can see which one I suggest!)
There is no immediate solution to the stair cleaning robot that you can readily purchase from a shop currently, but there is another way to look at your cleaning habits. In our opinion, a robotic vacuum that carries out its scheduled tasks on a daily basis will remove the majority of dirt from your home, meaning stairs will be less frequently dirty.
Then add the updated Dyson Cyclone V10 would be a perfect combination to cover those stairs every few days and you still have a great cordless vacuum that is more than capable of cleaning the car, the back room and even hovering the sofa!