How Does Obstacle Avoidance Work In Robot Vacuums?


ecovacs robot vacuum cleaner using cameras and sensors to detect a pair of slippers in order to avoid them
Whether using it as a daily space refresher or a deep cleaning housekeeping assistant, robot vacuums are being picked up by more and more consumers, cleaning as users go about their own lives. But are you really saving time if you have to yank stuck objects out of the suction or dislodge the vacuum from underneath furniture multiple times each time the device runs? New robot vacuum models are being released with more high-tech obstacle avoidance. These smart devices are capable of not just object avoidance but object recognition, able to identify what miscellaneous objects in your home are as they encounter them in real-time.

Why Do Smart Vacuum Cleaners Need Object Avoidance?

couple sitting on armchairs in a living room as a deebot robotic vacuum cleans beside them

Object recognition technology helps robotic floor cleaners to understand what’s in their path and employ object avoidance to react to obstacles properly, avoiding getting tangled, distracted or colliding into delicate things. This is essential for a friction-free vacuum. For example, robot vacuums with obstacle avoidance should know to manoeuvre around a sock but continue vacuuming over a high-pile carpet. The benefits of good object avoidance tech in a robot vacuum are:

More Efficient navigation

First, object avoidance helps auto vacuums to move around living spaces quicker. If you’ve seen a video of a ‘bump and go’ vacuum trying to navigate past a stubborn cat, you’ll know how much time is saved if the device could identify the animal and go around it. In short, the smart vacuum doesn’t need to spend time fixing its path after running into a snag because it knew not to run into it in the first place.

Avoid Leaving marks

Next, robot vacuums with object avoidance identify walls and corners accurately. They can not only understand there’s an obstacle but know that they can follow the straight edge. This means fewer unsightly skids and marks left on your walls and furniture corners.

ecovacs deebot smart vacuum cleaner cleaning the floor beside a cabinet

Prevent Damage To Automatic Vacuum

Obstacle evasion technology prevents the device from slurping up something that will jam or damage its internal parts. This extends the auto vacuum’s lifespan, keeping it running longer and performing optimally for longer.

Contribute To Room Mapping

Object avoidance tech is also related to accurate room mapping . For instance, most robot vacuums map your home when you first get it. But what if you move furniture? What if you accidentally leave something in its path that wasn’t there when it first mapped the layout? With object recognition, the smart device can learn the configuration of your living space even as it evolves.

Best DEEBOT Robot Vacuums With Object Avoidance


virtual rays coming out from the sensors of a deebot x1 omni white robot vacuum with a phone screen above it showing a cat captured in the robot vacuum’s camera

The DEEBOT X1 OMNI White uses AIVI 3D to identify obstacles. As already mentioned, this particular technology helps the auto vacuum to recognise objects faster as it spends more and more time familiarising itself with your living space so it can work more efficiently over time. The X1 OMNI features a Starlight Camera that allows users to view a live video feed from onboard the robot vacuum to monitor pets or their home on the ECOVACS HOME app. It is also one of ECOVACS’ most powerful robot vacuums, reaching a suction power of 5,000Pa 1 and capable of both sweeping and mopping. Its cutting-edge docking station, the OMNI Station, has separate clean and sewage water tanks and self-washes and dries mopping pads with blasts of hot air for the best-cleaning, most hygienic experience.


deebot x1 turbo mopping hardwood floor beside a bed

The DEEBOT X1 TURBO uses the same AIVI 3D technology to keep away from obstacles, with an added OZMO Turbo 2.0 Rotating Mopping System. This fully independent robot vacuum mop is housed in the Clean Station, self-refilling the robot vacuum’s onboard water reservoir, washing and using cool air to sanitise its own mopping pads. Not only does this auto vacuum model effectively avoid obstacles, it deep cleans around them for minimal intervention from the user.


deebot t20 omni charging in charging dock in a minimalist home with the living room in the background

The DEEBOT T20 OMNI is one of the best robot vacuums with obstacle avoidance from the DEEBOT line. As compared to the other two models, it utilises TrueDetect 3D obstacle avoidance software which works perfectly in the dark. So for example, if you want the robotic vacuum mop to work for pristine floors overnight or during while you’re watching a movie, it can do so. This premium model also has incredible battery life, able to vacuum-mop for up to 260 minutes on one charge. It also comes with OMNI docking station with self-emptying dust and automatic mop cleaning and hot-air drying features.

How Do Robot Vacuums Avoid Obstacles?

deebot vacuum cleaning robot from ecovacs cleaning wood floor in a living room and mapping its environment using grids of light

Auto vacuums are usually trained using sets of images of common household objects to recognise objects they are likely to encounter. Then, companies can program various technologies into smart vacuum cleaners to identify and avoid these obstacles. Some models use a combination of mechanisms to understand different types of information, like distance between the robot and the object or creating a 3D picture of the object.

Traditional Obstacle Avoidance Technologies

Traditional obstacle avoidance technologies include mechanical collision avoidance and ultrasonic sensors . Ultrasonic sensors are typically mounted on the front edge of the robot, and are used to help the robot make snap decisions, detecting changes in height (in homes, most likely stairs) and the edges of carpets. In certain DEEBOTs, this sensor triggers the robot vacuum boosting suction power to lift debris from between carpet fibres.

Lidar Obstacle Avoidance

Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) employs laser beams to measure the distance from the vacuum to surrounding objects. It also allows the robot to create a real-time map of its environment. Because lidar relies on lasers instead of visible light, it works in the dark.

3D ToF (Time of Flight) Obstacle Avoidance

In 3D Time of Flight (ToF) technology, light pulses (usually infrared) are sent out from the robotic vacuum. The time it takes for the light to bounce back helps the robot to understand the depth, height and size of objects. However, 3D ToF may not be as accurate at detecting small or thin obstacles.

3D Structured Light Obstacle Avoidance

3D Structured Light in robot vacuums with object avoidance works by projecting a light pattern onto the environment and analysing the light distortion to create a 3D map . This gives the robot a high-resolution understanding of the entire room it’s in. However, this technology struggles with mapping transparent or reflective surfaces.

deebot smart vacuum cleaner vacuuming a carpet with a laptop, cup of coffee, notebook and smartphone nearby

Monocular Or Binocular Vision Based Obstacle Avoidance

Monocular vision and binocular vision (one or two cameras, respectively) allows the automatic vacuum to take and analyse pictures to understand what objects are. This obstacle avoidance technology doesn’t work as well as the other technologies in low light or with objects that have a similar colour as their background.

AIVI Obstacle Avoidance

Artificial Intelligence and Visual Interpretation (AIVI) is an obstacle recognition software innovated by ECOVACS. Itis a combined technology solution that integrates AI algorithms into visual recognition to recognize up to 30 different types of obstacles2, including furniture, cables and shoes. The robot vacuum with object avoidance learns from experience and improves its obstacle avoidance over time. This technology relies on good lighting conditions to capture clear images.

TrueDetect 3D

TrueDetect 3D uses a combination of infrared sensors and ToF camera to create a 3D map. This gives the robotic vacuum cleaner the richest possible understanding of its surroundings, even allowing it to detect objects down to the millimetre level.

How To Choose The Right Obstacle Avoidance Robot Vacuum

Robot vacuums with sophisticated obstacle avoidance capabilities are typically priced at a premium compared to traditional upright vacuums. It’s important to select a suitable robot vacuum model based on your individual needs and budget. Consider the following factors:

  • Home size: Do you live in a small apartment or large home? If you live in a big house, finding a robot vacuum with good mapping and navigation abilities may be more important. If your space is more compact, if you like not having to pre-clean before starting the robotic vacuum, then obstacle avoidance tech is essential.
  • Floor type: If there are hard and soft surfaces in your home, consider smart vacuums that transition well between different surface types along with obstacle avoidance capabilities. Is the floor light or dark? If it’s dark-coloured, look for devices employing obstacle avoidance tech that is effective even without bright light.
  • Pet-friendliness: If you have a pet, look for robot vacuums for pet homes that do well in low-light environments so they recognise and avoid pets and pet poop, as well as strong suction and brush materials that can handle pet fur.


How do obstacle avoidance robot vacuums work?

Obstacle avoidance robot vacuums can use one or multiple technologies to effectively steer clear of foreign objects. For example, they can use lidar (laser beams), 3D ToF (sending out light pulses and analysing the reflected light), 3D Structured Light (beaming a light net onto the environment to create a three-dimensional map) or AIVI (artificial intelligence and visual interpretation).

Which robot vacuums avoids poop?

DEEBOT robot vacuums are one of the smart vacuum cleaners available that avoid pet poop by using A.I.-backed technology to capture images and analyse these images to identify obstacles.

What is the best object recognition robot vacuum?

The most effective object recognition robot vacuums employ mechanisms that work in both optimal and low-light situations, understand how far away objects are and use evasive action to effectively avoid objects that they could get stuck on. For instance, DEEBOT smart vacuum cleaners from ECOVACS use AIVI software to recognise and manoeuvre around up to 30 items.


  1. 5,000Pa: The data is based on testing from the ECOVACS laboratory. The suction power of DEEBOT T10 OMNI, DEEBOT X1 OMNI, DEEBOT X1 TURBO and DEEBOT X1 PLUS can reach 5,000Pa.
  2. 30 types of obstacles: This data comes from ECOVACS laboratory.

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