Can Robot Vacuums Do Stairs?

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Robot vacuums already exist that are more than capable of cleaning flat surfaces, but with a greater number of two or more story homes being built than single story, it begs the question as to whether robot vacuums can also so stairs?

Robot vacuums currently cannot vacuum stairs. The technology does not yet exist to allow robot vacuums to independently climb up and down a set of stairs. They currently can only and move and operate across flat surfaces.

I did some research into robot vacuums to try and understand what makes stairs such for a challenge for them whilst discovering some technology that does already exist that still makes cleaning our homes so much easier and more convenient.

Why Can’t Robot Vacuums Do Stairs?

Being able to walk up and down the stairs is something we can do without even having to think about.

Our brains signal to our feet to walk up and down them like it is nothing, but unfortunately robot vacuums currently don’t share the same basic skill set.

In order for a robot vacuum to effectively climb stairs, it would need to have legs like you and I.

This is a massive challenge in itself, not to mention the fact that they will need to clean at the same time.

There are some robots that are capable of climbing stairs, but these have been developed by companies with massive budgets whose priorities lie elsewhere when it comes to making advancements in robotics.

I can’t blame them, but developing robots to clean the stairs, so we don’t have to isn’t exactly at the top of their priority list.

These humanoid-style robots with legs work using a gyroscope, just like our smartphones.

Our phones know whether it is being viewed vertically or horizontally as the screen will rotate automatically based on the orientation.

The robots are similar, but also need to account for balance and movement; something our phones do not.

Add in the requirement to perform the actual vacuuming and you can see why the technology doesn’t yet exist.

There are some robots that can climb the stairs that don’t have the use of legs; they use tracks instead.

These types or robots are nowhere near perfect and are incredibly expensive to make. I literally can’t imagine what one of these would retail for.

What Are the Latest Developments?

There have been several attempts made to develop robots that can effectively navigate stairs on their own, but all have faced one obstacle or another that hasn’t been easy to overcome.

A robot that does currently exist that could end up being the spark that ignites future possibilities is a flying robot vacuum cleaner that was designed and built by YouTuber and engineer, Peter Sripol.

Peter added three ducted fans to a cheap robot vacuum and made it fly.

It was found that this method of having a robot clean the stairs for you isn’t exactly practical, though.

The downdraft produced by the fans tended to make more mess than the vacuum was able to actually clean up, and it required a human pilot to steer it in the right direction.

In addition to this, manufacturing this DIY flying robot vacuum wasn’t cheap either. Peter spent more than triple the cost of the vacuum itself on the electronics and components needed to make it fly. The electronics alone cost Peter around $200.

Although it may not be the solution to all our problems, Peter’s invention has still been a viable and commendable proof-of-concept that proves something more refined may well be available to us sooner rather than later.

What Robot Vacuums Currently Exist?

If you’re after a robot vacuum to clean the majority of your home, leaving just the stairs for you, you are in luck.

There are many different robot vacuums to purchase for very reasonable prices these days, all manufactured by well know, reputable companies.

Every day the technology seems to be improving and making robot vacuums a very worthy contender for replacing regular vacuums altogether for some people.

Some will learn the layout of your home and clean it for you on its own, others are designed specifically with pets in mind and do a great job at picking up pet hair, and some even have the ability to empty themselves.

You literally don’t have to touch it. After you have initially programmed it, you could quite happily return home at the end of the day and it would seem like your home had magically vacuumed itself.

Even if robot vacuums can’t currently do the stairs, them being able to effectively clean the remaining 90% of the home is a win in my eyes.

robot vacuum

When Will Robot Vacuums Be Able to Do Stairs?

To be honest, I can’t see us having robot vacuums that can do the stairs for at least another 10 years.

The technology and what robots are currently capable of doing is extraordinary, but it still isn’t enough to replace the need for humans to clean the stairs.

By time robots can effectively clean the stairs, they will be doing so much more than just vacuuming. By then I imagine fully fledged androids designed to be a home assistant that can do it all will exist.

Don’t get your hopes up expecting to get a robot vacuum to clean the stairs for you anytime soon. I think we will be in for a considerably long wait before it is possible.

What to Do Instead

At the end of the day, vacuuming the stairs yourself isn’t exactly a difficult or time-consuming job. Humans are best placed to vacuum stairs as we have found, but there are a few things you could do if you are adamant that you won’t be the one vacuuming the stairs.

If you don’t have carpet on the stairs, there will be nothing there to vacuum. Having hard floor instead means you can just give it a quick sweep or dust and you’re done.

You can also get stair protectors. These are made from mostly cotton but also use a foam backing to prevent them from slipping, and they can easily be cut to length with a pair of scissors.

These will still get dirty eventually, though, so will need to be cleaned on occasion.

Regardless of whether you have hard floor stairs or carpet protectors, the stairs will still need to be cleaned. Even though the cleaning may not take as long or need to be done quite as often, there is no escaping it completely I’m afraid.

That is unless you decide to hire someone to vacuum your stairs for you.

Humans are simply the best way of cleaning stairs currently, so someone will have to continue doing it until robot vacuums are up to the task.