The Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is in as full swing as covid will allow, and it's already looking like a bumper showcase of groundbreaking tech. One early contender for Best in Show is the latest offering from Beijing-based robotic vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Roborock. Unveiled on this very day in time for CES (star date 4 Jan, 2022), the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra promises to be a completely new kind of hybrid robot vacuum cleaner that not only vacuums and mops, but heads back to its charging station where it’s fully maintained in readiness for its next outing. And by ‘fully’ we mean completely, entirely, wholly, totally, thoroughly and in every respect.
Its stablemate, the Roborock S7, is already on sale and we loved it so much we gave it a full five-star review. However, it didn’t come with a self-emptying bin system in the UK and this writer is of the opinion that if you have a particularly dusty home or have any hairy pets knocking about, you should avoid buying any robot vac that doesn’t come with a self-emptying docking bin – unless you wish to spend precious time chasing a robot around just so you can empty its ridiculously small bin every 20 minutes or so.
By contrast, the S7 MaxV Ultra comes with an outrageously fancy dock and one that might just be what we’ve all been looking for – a hybrid robot cleaner that ships with its own complete cleaning station for both vacuuming and mopping duties. Let me explain as best I can from the paucity of advance press notes I have in front of me.
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra: mopping system
Most higher-end robot floor cleaners come with a mothership dock that serves two purposes: to keep the battery-powered robot topped up with juice while automatically evacuating the rubbish in its titchy bin using a powerful vacuum system. It is far and away the most convenient type of system for most users, especially those with shedding pets in the home.
Some ‘hybrid’ robot vacs also have a wet cloth mop attached to the rear that drags along behind the vacuum rollers, mopping the floor at the same time. The trouble is, most of them can’t tell accurately enough whether they’re on carpet or hard floor so the mopping action can sometimes continue when the robot’s on a section of carpet or a rug – and that’s not what you want, is it?
Roborock recently solved this conundrum with its new S7 robomop and the same system is fitted to the S7 MaxV Ultra. Like the S7, the S7 MaxV Ultra has a VibraRise mop that automatically lifts off the ground a few millimetres the moment the front end’s ultrasonic sensor detects a different floor surface. This means the robot doesn’t soak any carpets or rugs so it can be left to reliably clean all floor surfaces while you’re out and about. As an extra bonus, the mop also vibrates 3,000 times a minute, releasing ingrained dirt more effectively than the competition. We know the system works well because we’ve tried it.
But that’s just the half of it, because Roborock’s robo-bods have clearly had a good think about what we humans want from our machines and taken the whole ethos of autonomous floor cleaning to a new level of convenience by completely reinventing the dock and turning it into a fully-fledged cleaning and maintenance station.
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra: Intelligent docking system
Where most current higher-end hybrid robot floor cleaners come with a pretty basic bin-emptying system that sucks the detritus out of the robot’s mini bin and into a larger disposable dust bag, the S7 MaxV Ultra goes several steps further. Roborock calls it ‘an ultra-dock that does it all’ and judging by the specs, that does seem to be the case.
Aside from emptying the robot’s internal dust bin in a conventional way, the S7 MaxV Ultra’s Empty Wash Fill Dock also services the mopping system. In essence, every time the S7 returns to its dock to have the bin emptied or the battery recharged, the mop on the rear is automatically scrubbed clean and, if necessary, the water in the robot’s reservoir is topped up, giving it ’50% more mopping coverage than its predecessors’. That makes it a Holy Grail of autonomous floor cleaning machines in my book – a fully automated robot vacuuming and mopping system that requires very little human input apart from filling up the dock’s main water tank from time to time and throwing the dust bag away after about seven weeks.
I should add that I haven’t seen an S7 MaxV Ultra in the flesh but, judging by the images, it’s not the prettiest looking dock in the household and certainly nowhere near as elegant as iRobot’s Roomba J7+. In fact it looks like three grain silos side by side. The upshot is that, if you do eventually buy yourself one, you might want to keep the docking system in a room where it can’t usually be seen.
Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra: Obstacle avoidance
Robot manufacturers are always looking at ways to improve the efficiency and navigation skills of their products and iRobot leads the way in this respect with the fairly recent release of its Roomba J7+, a vacuum-only robot that can detect dog poo and avoid it – but, as I found out on two occasions recently, only when it’s light enough for the robot’s camera to see.
According to Roborock’s press notes, the S7 MaxV Ultra is equipped with a ReactiveAI 2.0 Obstacle Avoidance System. Using a combination of an RGB camera (a camera designed to create images that replicate human vision), 3D structured light and a new processing unit, the S7 MaxV Ultra is said to ‘recognise objects in its path more accurately, regardless of lighting conditions’. Apparently ‘it also recognises and positions furniture in the app, allowing users to start a quick clean around dining tables or sofas with just a simple tap of an icon in the Roporock app’. And better still, according to the blurb, ‘it even identifies rooms down to their unique flooring materials, recommending ideal cleaning patterns such as suction power and scrub intensity.’ However, it doesn’t make any claims about S7 MaxV Ultra’s ability to dodge dog crap so we’ll have to wait and see what happens in that regard when we get our mitts on a sample.
When is the Roborock S7 MaxV Ultra available?
Obviously it’s early days, but Roborock says the S7 MaxV Ultra will be available from Amazon in the US (and presumably other sources, too) in the second quarter of 2022 for an MSRP of $1399.99. Us Brits can only hope that availability in the UK and Europe follows soon after, or preferably during the same period. Keep a look out for any updates by signing up to the t3.com newsletter.