Let's get this one out of the way because it's the first type of home robot most of us think of when listing modern-day robots. Popularized by the Roomba, these robots are designed to vacuum your floor automatically—no walking required!
They can range in price from just a few hundred to well over $1000. High-dollar robot vacuums often have extra features like self-emptying dust bins and Wi-Fi support.
How vacuum robots work
Robotic vacuums are designed to propel themselves across the floor, vacuuming as they go along. Many of them can be programmed to operate on a schedule or rest until manually triggered.
Some of them use sensors to avoid obstacles while others use AI to create a map of your floor plan. Robotic vacuums have debris bags that need to be emptied and changed periodically. High-end robot vacuums have base stations that automatically recharge the unit and empty bags.
Vacuum robots you can buy
If you're looking for a few popular options, these should give an idea of what's available and aid you in your research.
- Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty XL RV101AE - This robot vacuum automatically empties bags at the base station between cleaning cycles.
- Bissell SpinWave Hard Floor Expert Pet Robot - This robot vacuum from Bissel doubles as a wet mop.
- Roomba - This robotic vacuum is probably the most iconic. We even have a few Roomba guides here at Howchoo.
If you're familiar with robotic vacuums, the next obvious step is robotic mops for hard floors! These little robots operate in a very similar fashion to vacuum robots. One major difference is the added support for liquid cleaning solutions.
As with robotic vacuums, there are many to choose from ranging in quality, price, and features. You can pick one up for anywhere between a few hundred up to more than $1000.
How mopping robots work
These robots are designed to propel themselves across hard floors. Some use distance sensors to avoid obstacles while others have onboard AI to plot maps of your floor.
The exact design will vary between models but most robotic mops have a compartment for water to spray the floor and another for cleaning solution. Mopping brushes rotate to clean the debris as it travels across the floor.
Mopping robots you can buy
If you're looking to buy, there are more than a few options available. Here are a couple we've come across to get you started.
Some robots are designed to make life easier but this one has the added bonus of making life a little safer. Any roof work is dangerous, even gutter cleaning. Mitigating that risk is always going to be a benefit and that's exactly what this robot offers.
You'll still need to climb up to the gutter in order to put the gutter cleaning robot into place but it saves you the hassle of working your way across the gutter.
How gutter cleaning robots work
To get started, choose one end of the gutter and place the robot inside, facing toward the debris. A remote control is used to initiate the robot which propels itself forward to clean.
The strength of the robot will vary on things like what model you're using and conditions like the current battery charge. Many gutter cleaning robots use brushes or bristles to shake loose and scrub the gutter clean.
Gutter cleaning robots you can buy
Gutter cleaning robots aren't as prevalent as other systems like vacuum robots and the selection isn't as wide.
- iRobot Looj 330 - When we went looking for gutter cleaning robots, this model kept appearing along with a few other models from the same company. It has everything you need to get started and seems to be leading the market.
Robotic arms aren't just fun to play with, they make excellent learning tools for new and experienced programmers alike. If you're looking to explore the field of mechanical engineering in any capacity, this is an excellent place to start.
Some robotic arms come in kits that can be constructed and programmed while others are pre-assembled and ready to go out of the box. Even pre-assembled arms can be hacked, in most cases, for custom programming.
How robotic arms work
Most robotic arms are controlled by means of servo motors. These can receive signals in real-time from a controller or operate using pre-programmed values for movement.
Most robotic arms have hands or fingers that can open and squeeze to pick things up. In factory settings, you'll see arms using all sorts of things to manipulate objects like suction cups and magnets.
Robotic arms you can buy
We almost always recommend the DIY route for makers who like to tinker and learn. If you don't want to make your own robotic arm, here are a few you can buy.
Self-driving cars were nothing more than science fiction until recent years. Now they're known as autonomous vehicles and you may have already passed one on the street.
While some user input is necessary, these vehicles can operate independently to a notable degree. Self-driving cars are a type of robotic car that use external sensors to evaluate its environment and make real-time decisions to drive the vehicle to a predetermined location.
How self-driving cars works
The types of sensors available vary between different models. They can use distance sensors and things like sonar or radar to identify surroundings while tools like GPS help determine where the vehicle is.
In addition to sensors for obstacle aversion, there are also systems dedicated to path navigation and machine learning for reading signs. All of this comes together to create a robotic car capable of self-driving.
Self-driving cars you can buy
There aren't too many self-driving cars on the market but if you see one, it's probably a Tesla.
- Tesla - Tesla's autopilot feature is leading the self-driving car industry. You can read more about it through the official Tesla website.
Lawn mowing robots work a lot like vacuum and mop robots. They are self-propelled, battery-powered units that automatically cut the grass in your yard as it moves along.
The range of features for these robots varies between models. Some are rain resistant while others have security features like anti-theft sensors. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth options can keep you informed of any important mowing notifications.
How lawn mowing robots work
Many mowing robots have different methods for determining yard boundaries. External distance sensors are not enough. In some cases, a special wire can be placed in the yard to designate zones that shouldn't be mowed. Some of them even use GPS to avoid wandering too far.
Mowing robots can be programmed to operate automatically, on a schedule, or manually triggered when it's time to mow. Definitely look closely at the extra features when choosing one of these as it can make a huge difference
Lawn mowing robots you can buy
There are a few robotic lawnmowers to choose from on the market and several companies providing multiple options.
Keeping your pool clean is necessary as a pool owner but it isn't fun. A robot would make the process fun and save you precious time for more swimming! Robotic pool cleaners are self-propelled units that remove debris and algae automatically as they move about the water.
Most simple pool cleaning robots will move along the bottom of the pool. More high-dollar units are capable of maneuvering up the sides of pool walls.
How pool cleaning robots work
Some pool cleaners are not battery powered and rely on an extension cord for power while others are cordless. To operate, the robot is placed in the pool, powered on, and begins to move about, scrubbing away any debris in its path.
The debris is collected inside the unit while water is filtered through. When full, the debris tray or bag can be emptied and replaced as needed.
Pool cleaning robots you can buy
Pool cleaning robots are in high demand and there are plenty to choose from on the market.
- Maytronics Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus Inground Robotic Pool Cleaner - This pool cleaning robot is one of the most popular units, along with other models from the Maytronics brand.
- Aiper Smart Cordless Automatic Pool Cleaner - This unit doesn't require any power cord to operate and features a lightweight design.
If you remember the Companion Cube from Portal, you should be more than familiar with the idea that inanimate objects can function as a pal of sorts. Companion robots are designed to provide a wide range of functions with some sort of persona worked into the design.
These robots are great options for personal assistants using voice-activated controls and systems like Alexa or Siri for smart functions. Some people recommend them for elderly and disabled individuals who need extra support.
How companion robots work
The features of companion robots vary greatly. Many of them can locomote with wheels and some are stationary. Internet support makes it possible to interact with voice assistants. A camera is sometimes used to integrate AI for things like facial recognition.
Some of the more useful companion robots will do small things for users around the house—especially using smart functions like temperature control or light adjustment.
Companion robots you can buy
Companion robots won't always be labeled as such but there are tons of robots out there that meet the definition.
Fish are sometimes hard to keep—particularly cichlids and other fish with sensitive needs like temperature requirements or specific water salinity levels. Pet fish robots let you forget all of that. It's all about battery changes from here on out.
Robotic pet fish can't be killed and you'll never have to say goodbye. What's not to love? They swim around automatically and just need a fresh boost of power now and then.
How robotic pet fish work
Robotic fish are battery-powered and begin to move when placed in the water. Of course, they move haphazardly about—there are no external sensors. They will simply propel forward into things, occasionally switching directions.
The motion is triggered by a tail flip which initiates when in the water. In most cases the batteries are replaceable but it wouldn't hurt to make sure before investing in a new aquatic robot pet.
Pet fish robots you can buy
There are some off-brand options available but Zuru seems to be leading this leg of the robotic industry.
If you try to put your pool cleaning robot in the aquarium, the fish inside are not going to be happy (unless you've snagged some robotic fish). What you need for this environment is an aquarium tank cleaning robot.
These units scrub the sides of the tank for you automatically by means of self-propulsion. Some of them run on set schedules while others only run when you tell them to.
How aquarium cleaning robots work
These units rely on suction to stay supported on the side of the tank. AI is integrated, in most cases, for path routing and choosing where to move about the aquarium wall.
Of course, aquarium owners care very much for their fish and wouldn't want them in harm's way (especially curious buggers that like to follow uninvited robots around). Most aquarium cleaning robots have built-in sensors for avoiding fish and obstacles like decorations.
Aquarium cleaning robots you can buy
You and your fish have a few options to choose from. Units range from basic models to high-end ones with wireless support and mobile notifications.
- Moai Robot - This unit is designed to work with your smartphone. It also has a built-in camera so you can check in on your fishy friends any time you want.
- AquaGenesis Robosnail - Another option is the Robosnail from AquaGenesis. It creeps along your tank like a snail but unlike snails, it cleans as it goes.
One thing is for sure when it comes to summer cooking, a clean grill makes a huge difference. If you don't want to spend time wasting elbow grease on serious scrub jobs, you may want to invest in a grill cleaning robot.
These are designed to move across the grill while scrubbing away food debris with the help of wire brushes.
How grill cleaning robots work
Operating the unit is straightforward enough. It's placed on the grill grate and powered on. Electric motors push wire brushes around as it locomotes, removing the cooked food debris as it goes by.
Some units are wireless and powered via battery. These can be recharged or replaced if no longer maintaining a charge.
Grill cleaning robots you can buy
There aren't many robotic grill cleaners on the market but surely a high enough demand will fix that problem.
- Grillbot - The leading grill cleaning robot out today is known as the Grillbot. It runs on a Lithium-Ion battery and has three wire brushes for scrubbing.
If you've got tall windows, you'd be better off sending a robot to do the cleaning for you. Windows cleaning robots are designed to hold themselves against glass surfaces, automatically cleaning as they go.
These are useful in situations where cleaning windows is physically difficult to do or otherwise dangerous, requiring ladders or steps to complete.
How window cleaning robots work
There are a few window cleaning robots available on the market and with them come a variety of methods for keeping the unit in place against the window.
A common method is by means of vacuum suction, these units use enough suction force to stop the window cleaning robot from falling from the glass. Others use a magnet on the opposite side to keep the robot in place.
Window cleaning robots you can buy
You won't have a hard time finding these robots, here are a few we came across to help your research:
Home security robots can add an extra layer to your home security system. There are both indoor and outdoor units optimized to respond to potential threats.
Some of them are stationary, using tools like cameras and motion sensors while others can roam freely. Some home security robots patrol outside your house, sending mobile notifications when threats are detected.
How home security robots work
Home security robots can be both hardwired and battery-powered if mobile. They scan for threats and respond whenever they're detected.
Users can typically program a schedule for the robot to follow and decide what triggers specific outcomes as things are detected. Most home security robots offer features for remote monitoring.
Home security robots you can buy
Be picky when choosing a home security robot. Make sure it has all of the features you need at the right price point.
There's nothing like a real pet but if you can't have one right now, you may want to consider a robotic pet. They're far from a replacement for real animals but definitely entertaining and at least fun to play with.
Another exciting element about robotic pets is that they can resemble real animals or fictional ones. Examples of robotic pets include Poo-Chi, FurReal Friends, and even the Furby.
How robotic pets work
Robotic pets can be autonomous or manually controllable and occasionally both. They can incorporate AI and sometimes use voice recognition.
Movement can be limited or complex, most of them rely on servos to manipulate limbs and move mouths. Robotic pets can be simple, like the robotic fish we mentioned above or complex like our wild Furlexa project that crosses a Furby with Amazon Alexa.
Robotic pets you can buy
It's not hard to find robotic pets online or in stores. Here are a few popular ones that have been around for a few years.
As we've been saying, robots should help take a load off for us. We mean that literally with cargo robots. These guys are equipped to move things around so you don't have to bear the load.
Cargo robots vary in capacity and mobility. Some units are optimized for indoor use while others can handle rugged outdoor terrain.
How cargo robots work
Cargo robots are designed to house a dedicated basket or storage container. These containers typically have a weight limit but can save you the trouble of taking multiple trips. They also make it easier to move things if you're not physically able to.
Cargo robots can move autonomously, often using a camera, external sensors, and AI for automated obstacle aversion and path planning.
Cargo robots you can buy
It turns out there aren't too many cargo robots on the market but there are a few to choose from. Here are a few we found to help you with your research.