Tales from the robovac fight pits
I’m waiting for a replacement vacuum and a new contender that a PR agency is saying will be here when samples are available, but at the moment I’m nightly running four units across three floors and each one I’ve run across something interesting to me… if you’re into odd bugs found when you run robot vacuums 5+ hours a night in an office building, read on.
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra
A recent firmware update appears to have messed my map up. Something has rotated the original map and what exists by about 12 degrees. Not a huge issue but it’s recognized new rooms, there is space that doesn’t exist. The fix is make a new map.
This isn’t a huge problem these days because the fast mapping really is fast and last night I set about creating a new one.
I watched on and off for about half an hour and it had mapped out several thousand square feet of the office building. Weather change knocked me out early last night and I woke up to messages that the S7 couldn’t find the base. I was able to jump into the unit, discovered someone had left the door to the garage at work open, the unit was sitting under a bench. It should have been able to find its way back, but the garage was on the other side of the long hallway of robot death and once again, the hallway won. Even creating a new map.
When I drove the unit back and attempted to park it in front of the charger and have it return, it refused. It then evidently loaded the original map, was convinced it was 40 or so feet in a different location, refused to go within 10 feet of the charger suddenly because it detected a no go zone (needs to be an override for this in the remote control,) and I finally had to park it under a table because I couldn’t even edit the map.
Tonight I’ll delete the old maps and maybe block off the hallway.
Other than the firmware update rotating a map slightly and making it not look perfect, the MaxV Ultra has failed to get home one or two additional times since the last time I wrote about it. Latest was it somehow got under a couch it’s been avoiding pretty much since day 1.
I created a virtual wall that runs along the railings on the third floor. There’s something about two areas of the railings that are just the perfect height to 1) lure a robot into a false sense of security, 2) trap said robot.
It still refuses to go more than about 50-60 feet in any direction from the base. Those 50-60 feet are cleaned well, and theoretically a 10,000 square foot cleaning area, but when you’re dealing with a very long ranch house or walkway that isn’t particularly wide, it cuts down on cleaning usefulness.
This one is surprising me. Great vacuum, was just perfect, first one blew out a motor (happens,) and the second one came in and seemed to be working fine. Lately things have gotten odd. I decided to clear the map and re-learn it, giving it and the Roborock a fresh start. Both were having similar issues.
The iLife had reported it was cleaning in mid-air at one point. The length of the cleaning area had suddenly shortened 20+ feet and it was reporting cleaning mid-air. Basically some sort of distance issue here.
Reset the map and set about discovery. It went out, started mapping, and as far as I know it didn’t run into issues. I noticed yesterday it was online but not responding. It also wasn’t pulling up a map or anything. Hrmmm.
Got in this morning, it’s sitting docked to the charger, red light on. Taking out the dustbin no voice prompt. Pressing buttons nothing. App says it’s online but returns nothing. Hrmm…
Pull it off the charger, red lights go out, press buttons, nothing.
Press back into charger, white lights come on, unit says “charging” and a minute later it’s showing in the app with 0 battery. It had docked and continued to drain and refused to charge for two days.
The Unnamed Contender
I’ve got a budget vacuum I’m seriously considering not reviewing at this point. The manufacturer thinks I’ve got a defective one and can not figure out why the firmware is the wrong version, but there’re more issues than that.. Maybe you have some input on this and can tell me, I’ve asked the manufacturer and the PR firm and am waiting…
So, it’s gyroscopic navigation. This means it figures out where it is without using LiDAR. It uses a combo of bump and memory mapping to figure out a room, figure out where it’s been, and in the app you can see a map that it builds from start. By the time it’s done you have a map of the rooms it’s in and you would think that this map would be used for something.
It’s not. The next run the mapping starts again. OK, so the map is there to figure out where it’s cleaned and nothing else? OK, budget vacuum… surely the map is useful for getting the unit back to its base and… nope…
I put the contender in a small office that’s unrented at the moment. There’s nothing on the floor. Every run from the base should result in exactly the same results. I stress that over the past few days nothing has changed. Nobody’s been in the office. The doors are closed. Nobody walks in. Every time I run this unit it should get the same results.
About 1/3 times it fails to find the dock, which is not obscured by anything. Every map it makes looks different. Watching this thing going it’s not only not where it thinks it is on the map, it encounters a wall, moves around, comes back to that wall and suddenly it’s 4-8 feet more added to the map where that wall is. Repeat.
And every time it’s different in the same environment, again and again and again.
The house vacs
When I rotate out vacuums they go to friends, family, coworkers. I don’t sell product from Pocketables, and if you’ve seen my reviews you’ll get that I don’t put a lot of emphasis on selling product in general.
Roborock S7 (Rhonda,) – working great, clogged the docking base for the first time. Cleaned brush for the first time in a few months. Nothing to report.
Q7 – Still working, firmware update applied, took longer to update than expected but worked fine.
Yeedi vacuums – all still unable to find their base, software still a joke. Great vacuums with software that turns them into terrible products.