Although we may be a long way off the utopian future of TV shows like The Jetsons, the growing household robots market is helping users keep their homes in check with minimal effort required
Household robots claim to take the hassle out of cleaning the home and, since the first robotic vacuum cleaner launched in 1996, the number of variants has only increased.
The current market for household robots – which is valued at $3.3bn, according to market researcher MarketsandMarkets – now ranges from automated mops to robot pool cleaners and is expected to nearly treble in value by 2024 to $9.1bn.
Home appliances multinational Electrolux launched its first product, the Trilobite, in 1997, using radar to navigate around furniture and clean dust from floors.
Technological improvements have since allowed for better area mapping and voice assistant integration, which is driving the recent growth in the household robots market.
Antoine Garcia, product manager for iRobot EMEA, says: “It’s now possible to take a lot of the technology in robotics down to a consumer price point.
“Cleaning is dull, repetitive and dirty, so it’s the perfect task for robots to do.”
With an influx of smart gadgets entering the home, these are the robots that are changing the way we complete household chores.
Household robots for sale on the market
Robotic vacuum cleaner
The robot vacuum cleaner is the longest-serving of the household robots.
The technology first gained mass-market appeal with the Roomba – which was first launched by consumer robot maker iRobot in 2002 and brought autonomous cleaning to a wider audience.
It’s latest model, the Roomba s9+, allows users to programme the area of the floor that they want cleaned via an app, while automatic bin emptying allows for “hands-free cleaning”.
Mr Garcia says: “Customers can go home to clean floors every single day and it gives the same feeling as walking into a hotel room.
“I haven’t vacuumed or mopped in years.
“Sales of traditional vacuum cleaners are decreasing and the number of robots is increasing – what we see in the market is the future of cleaning is robots.”
A robot mop was always soon to follow the creation of the robot hoover, with cleaning floors high on the list of household chores that people would rather not have to do.
Another iRobot creation, the Braava Jet, is functionally similar to the Roomba but squirts a jet of water before it sweeps over an area.
Sensors allow it to judge whether any wires or furniture are in spraying distance before it begins and – like the automatic vacuum – can be programmed to do the cleaning while the owner is out.
Sonic cleaning tool
The team at Omisonic claims to have created the world’s first wireless ultrasonic cleaning tool, capable of removing dirt from most household objects through the power of ultrasonic waves.
The small wireless device is submerged in water and sends microscopic bubbles to lift dirt particles from an object.
According to its maker, it can be used on clothes, jewellery or even vegetables, and uses only 2% of the water of a washing machine.
Household robots are spreading out of the confines of the home and onto the lawns with the advent of robot lawnmowers.
Products such as the Landroid and iRobot’s Terra navigate owners’ lawns to evenly cut the grass and automatically return to a set “base” to recharge when the task is done.
The latest devices can cut grass to different lengths and tackle hills and inclines.
Robotic pool cleaner
Robotic pool cleaners, such as the Nautilus CC Plus, are becoming increasingly popular in the US – where housing surveys suggest 16% of American households had a swimming pool as recently as 2011.
The automated cleaners roll along the bottom of the pool and are capable of climbing the walls to for a complete finish.
Most robotic pool cleaners can be set to clean the pool at regular weekly intervals – meaning that users need only remember to switch it on.
Robotic window cleaner
Cleaning the outside of windows on a multi-storey flat can be a tricky task.
The latest automated window cleaners aim to take any inconvenience away.
The S70 Robotic Window Cleaner uses suction to cling onto the glass surface before wiping away any dirt and grime.
Like the other robotic devices on this list, simple AI helps to guide the cleaner around its environment and avoid obstacles.