Complete History of Robot Vacuum Cleaners [+ Current Facts and Statistics]

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Todays robot vacuum cleaners are more intelligent that ever, they can map your home, use AI to get around and some can even empty themselves. But the path to such advanced robots has been a long one, spanning over two decades since the first products were invented. In this guide, we’ll break down the products history and some statistics about robot vacuum cleaner market today.

When Was the Robot Vacuum Cleaner Invented?

The first robot vacuum cleaner was invented in 1996 and was called the Electrolux Trilobite. It ran on rechargeable batteries and had a remote control to operate.

It used ultrasonic radar to make its way around a room, as opposed to infrared or laser systems we know today. It was first shown on BBC’s tomorrows world in 1997 as shown in this video.

Tomorrows World - Philippa Forrester demonstrates robot vacuum cleaner

When Was the First Roomba Launched?

With roots in robots for the military and space exploration, iRobot was one of the pioneers of the modern-day robot vacuum with its Roomba line of devices. Colin Angle, co-founder of iRobot, said that the algorithm used in the Roomba was the same as the one used in mine hunting devices.

The first Roomba was launched in 2002, the range consisted of the Roomba, Roomba Pro and Roomba Pro Elite. It is widely seen as the first robot vacuum to achieve commercial success.

The term Roomba is often used interchangeable with the term robot vacuum cleaner. This is reminiscent of Hoover being used interchangeably for traditional vacuum cleaners.


History of Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Here is the most complete timeline that charts the history of the robot vacuum cleaner:

1962

Rosie the robot features in The Jetsons and would later become an icon for home automation

1962
1990

iRobot founded to focus on robotics for military and space exploration

1990
1996

Electrolux invented the first robot vacuum, the Electrolux Trilobite – see featured image

1996
1997

Electrolux Trilobite gained attention when it featured on BBC’s Tomorrows World

1997
2002

iRobot launched the Roomba which is widely seen as the first robot vacuum to find commercial success

2002
2004

iRobot has sold 1 million robot vacuum cleaners

2004
2005

iRobot launched the Scuba (which scrubbed hard floors)

2005
2009

First patent for a self-emptying robot vacuum filed by iRobot

2009
2010

Neato launched it’s first vacuum, the XV-11, which was the first to have laser mapping

2010
2010

Evolution Robotics launched their first robot vacuum, the Mint

2010
2010

iRobot has sold 3 million robot vacuum cleaners

2010
2012

iRobot acquires major competitor Evolution Robotics

2012
2015

Roomba launch first connected robot vacuum with WiFi

2015
2016

Anker launches a smart home division, Eufy, and their first robot vacuum

2016
2016

Xiaomi announce their first robot vacuum, the Xiaomi Mi Robot (which would later become the Roborock brand)

2016
2018

Global market worth $5.6 billion1

2018
2018

Traditional vacuum manufacturer, Shark Ninja, launches first robot vacuum, Shark Ion Robot 750

2018
2019

Two of the biggest US robot vacuum brands, iRobot and Shark Ninja, try to sue each other2

2019
2020

iRobot claim to have sold more than 30 million robot vacuum cleaners worldwide3

2020

Global Statistics about Robot Vacuum Cleaners Today

According to Grand View Research1, the robot vacuum cleaner market was worth $2.56 billion in 2019 (about £2billion) and is expected to grow by around 17.7% each year until 2027.

Asia pacific is the largest market for robot vacuum cleaners with a 36.2% share of the global market in 2019, and it is expected to grow at the fastest rate over the next 7 years1.

67.3% of consumers buy robot vacuum cleaners in store, compared to 32.7% buying online1.

We spend, on average, 40 hours a year vacuuming our homes4.

According to Google Trends, interest in robot vacuum cleaners has seen consistent growth over the last 5 years, with peaks each year around black Friday.

These are the top robot vacuum cleaner manufacturers in the world1:

  • iRobot, Massachusetts, US
  • Ecovacs Robotics, Suzhou, China
  • Xiaomi, Beijing, China (in partnership with Roborock, Beijing, China)
  • Shark Ninja, Massachusetts, US
  • Neato Robotics, California, US
  • Cecotec Innovaciones S.L. Valencia, Spain
  • Panasonic, Osaka, Japan
  • Samsung, Suwon-Si, South Korea
  • Dyson, Wiltshire, England (soon to be Singapore)

According to Colin Angle, co-founder of iRobot, 25% of all money spent on vacuum cleaners is spent on robot vacuum cleaners.


Statistics About Robot Vacuum Cleaners in the UK

Here are some facts and statistics specific to the robot vacuum cleaner market in the UK:

  • The UK, along with Germany, are the biggest markets for robot vacuum cleaners in Europe
  • The UK is home to only one of the biggest manufacturers of Robot Vacuum cleaners, Dyson
  • Ecovacs and Eufy top Amazon’s best-sellers list in robot vacuum cleaners in the UK

Sources:

  1. Grand View Research Market Report
  2. Robotics Business Report News Article – iRobot and SharkNinja Sue Each Other
  3. iRobot Company History
  4. Bosch Robot Vacuums

Featured Image Credit: Patrik Tschudin / CC BY