Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners 2018: The 5 best automatic vacs

Three years ago, the prospect of an autonomous floor cleaner was still very much a thing of science fiction.

Although robot vacuums were available at the time, they ‘sucked’ – and not in the good way. Luckily, thanks to advances in tracking tech, there are a number of models that are actually pretty good these days.

If you have the cash then you’d do far worse than picking up a self-cleaning helper that will at least tackle one chore from your to-do list each week.

But before you get all excited and rush to pick up one of these automaton helpers, make sure to read our guide, as not all vacuum cleaners have been created equal.

Related: Best vacuums

Different models don’t always handle the same types of floors. Some of the vacuums in this roundup will roll right over rugs and plush carpets with ease, while others will struggle to mount a thick rug but will clean hard floors without complaint.

Some robovacs handle obstacles differently, too. Certain machines come with separate magnetic strips that you can lay down around the house as boundary markers, while others rely on room-mapping with a camera or built-in sensors to avoid collisions with furniture, walls and sleeping pets. Depending on the layout of your house, some avoidance methods will work better than others.

With our warnings out of the way, scroll down to see the four best robot vacuums currently available.

Related: Best lightweight vacuums


Key features:

  • Auto-clean scheduling system
  • Two Virtual Wall Markers to block off areas
  • Side brush for edge cleaning
  • Noise level: 69dB
  • ~0.5-litre bin
  • HEPA filter

iRobot is something of a pioneer in robot vacuum cleaners, and the iRobot Roomba 880 is one of the most advanced we’ve tested from the company.

It’s fair to say things haven’t changed a whole lot in the design department, but plenty has on the inside. The Roomba 880 now offers learning and adaptive navigation with multiple sensors, a higher efficiency vacuum and a dual contra-rotating brush system that will literally grab dirt from your floors.

Its low-slung shape is perfect for getting around furniture, corners or anything that might get in its way, and though its criss-cross cleaning pattern might look random, it’s carefully designed to give complete coverage.

It’s easy to set up, and keeps things simple in use too, with just three options – a general clean, spot mode or the option to send it home to its compact charging dock.

Unlike laser-sensor models, the Roomba 880 will do quite a lot of bumping around before it finds its way, and once it does, its performance is a bit of a mixed bag. While its rubber rollers do a great job at picking up chunkier debris, its suction isn’t great and fine powder dust is often missed. It’s a little on the noisy side too.

It’s good with edges though, thanks to its dedicated side brush, and also deals well with the transition between hard floors and carpet. Deeper pile carpets will struggle, but that’s the case with most robot vacs.

All things considered, the company’s experience in this area shines with the Roomba 880’s design, functionality and performance. If you’re determined to buy a robot vacuum cleaner, this is one of the better ones around.

At the time of the review, the iRobot Roomba 880 was available for £600

Read the full iRobot Roomba 880 review


Key features:

  • Wi-Fi connectivity and app control
  • Amazon Echo compatibility
  • Magnetic boundary-marking strips
  • Charging dock
  • 120-minute battery (Eco mode)
  • 90-minute battery (Turbo mode)
  • 0.7-litre bin

The concept of robot vacuums may be old news, but Neato has made every effort to make the Neato Botvac Connected a standout futuristic cleaning bot with some impressive features.

Alongside laser-mapping, boundary-sensing and the usual robot vacuum fare sits a Wi-Fi brain, letting you control the Botvac Connected with not just an app, but your voice, too. Thanks to Amazon Echo compatibility, you can command the Botvac Connected to perform a clean by simply speaking to Alexa.

For finer control, you can direct the robot across floors like a toy car using the app, or resort to the touch controls on the screen aboard the robot itself to toggle settings and schedule cleaning. There are also two large physical buttons to initiate spot cleaning or full home cleaning.

With its unique D-shaped design, the Botvac Connected is a dream for cleaning hard-to-reach corners and awkward skirting boards. While it’s wider than some robot vacuums, depth-wise it’s thinner, so it can shimmy under the average sofa with ease. It cleans with a mix of suction and brush power, making light work of hard floors, short-pile carpets and pet hair.

It isn’t as effective on plush thick carpets, and it does tend to confuse the edges of thick rugs with walls and avoid them altogether – but it’s an effective and incredibly smart robot vacuum for hard-floored households.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of the review, the Neato Botvac Connected was available for £729.99

Read the full Neato Botvac Connected review


Key features:

  • 250W Max power consumption
  • Cleaning time 30/60/90mins
  • Noise level: 78dBA
  • Recharge time: 240mins
  • Camera-based room tracking
  • Flip-up carry handle

The Samsung Powerbot VR9300 is a huge, unwieldy beast, but what it lacks in design subtlety it makes up for in smart, efficient cleaning. It’s wirelessly networked, letting you select the areas you want cleaned from an app on your phone. It comes with a separate remote control to set it to Auto, Spot or Manual cleaning, which some people might prefer over full app control.

Pressing the down/back key on the remote emits a laser-pointer target for spot-cleaning. Point this at an area you want cleaned and the VR9300 will tootle over to suck up the mess. That fun little feature never gets old.

The VR9300 uses camera tracking to find its way around a room – a feature that’s vastly improved since the previous VR900 model. It uses an upward-facing digital camera that maps your ceiling before choosing the most efficient floor-cleaning route, aided by obstacle-detecting sensors that now help the technology detect and avoid objects such as thin chair legs.

Run-time is no object given the VR9300’s ability to automatically scoot back over to its charging dock to power up and then resume cleaning where it left off, but the machine’s energy-saving cleaning method is impressive. In fully automatic mode, it runs on low power and ramps up the suction only when it detects additional dirt in its airflow.

Add to that a square front-end design that tackles corners and edges well, and sturdy wheels that can glide over rugs without issue, and you have a powerful – if pricey – robot vacuum for all kinds of floors and carpets.

Buy Now at Amazon

At the time of the review, the Samsung Powerbot VR9300 was £799.

Read the full Samsung Powerbot VR9300 review

Dyson 360 Eye

4 of 5


Key features:

  • 0.33-litre capacity dust bin
  • 45-minute run-time
  • 360-degree camera navigation
  • V2 Digital Motor
  • Radial Root Cyclone technology
  • Tank Tracks
  • App control

Big budget robot vacuums don’t get much more powerful than the Dyson 360 Eye. Smaller yet taller than its rivals, the 360 Eye tears around the house on two tilting tank tracks, navigating thick rugs, carpets and hard floors effortlessly. It connects to an app on your phone, which offers a few simple and useful features. You can start and end cleaning sessions remotely, control the cleaning schedule, and view what your robot did in each session.

The 360-degree camera that inspires the name can see in all directions simultaneously, helping it keep well clear of obstacles. The vacuum is methodical as it goes along, popping back to its charging dock to power up mid-clean and then returning where it left off. Out on the main floor, it works slowly in overlapping squares so it doesn’t miss anything.

One area where it’s lacking is skirting boards – we noticed it stayed a touch shy of edges, meaning a quick once-over with a vacuum tool was often necessary. What’s more, beyond closing doors and other barriers such as furniture, there’s no way to limit where the 360 Eye goes, which means you do have to be careful letting it loose in precarious places like the top of the stairs.

Still, if it’s a powerful clean with minimum effort you’re after, you can’t get much better than the 360 Eye and the 10-plus years of Dyson expertise under its hood.

Buy now at Dyson for £799.99

At the time of the review, the Dyson 360 Eye was available for £799

Read the full Dyson 360 Eye review


Key features:

  • Low-profile design
  • App-controlled
  • Scheduled cleaning
  • Twin sweepers
  • Mop pad for hard floors
  • Three cleaning modes
  • 4hr charge time
  • Review price: £199.99

If you’re desperate for a robo vac but don’t have oodles of cash then the Deebot Slim2 is a reasonable option.

The inexpensive app-controlled robot cleaner works fine on hard floors and features an unassuming low-profile design, which helps it get under most bits of furniture and into corners with zero fuss.

A supplied mop pad will prove handy for times when you want to do more than simply pick up stray dust using the Deebot Slim2.

It’s only flaw is that it doesn’t work quite so well in carpeted rooms. This is unfortunate, since the issue could easily have been addressed with the addition of a brush bar.

Awkward steps, cables and rugs are also troublesome for this affordable robot, whose collision detection powers are a little hit and miss.

But, as ever, you get what you pay for – and you’ll struggle to find a better-value robot vacuum cleaner than the Deebot Slim2.

Read the full Ecovacs Deebot Slim2 review