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Roborock S6 MaxV robot vacuum hands-on: AI camera eliminates pet poop disasters

Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor
Hands on with the Roborock S6 MaxV robot vacuum Intelligent camera for no more pet poop disasters zdnet

Roborock S6 MaxV robot vacuum

9.2 / 5

pros and cons

  • Accurate obstacle detection and avoidance
  • LIDAR area mapping
  • Multi-function sweeping and mopping robot
  • Multi-level area recogniton
  • Easy to configure app
  • Occasionally got stuck on high thresholds

I really like the range of Roborock robot vacuums. Efficient cleaning, solid, and rugged, with an app that is easy to connect to and configure. I was looking forward to the latest model in the Roborock range.

SEE: Robotics in the enterprise(ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

The Roborock S6 MaxV robot vacuum is now available, and I had an early opportunity to test this robot vacuum ahead of its official launch date.

Although it initially looks similar to the S5 Max robot vacuum I reviewed in March 2020, the S6 MaxV also has a dual camera in the front bumper, which will recognize objects in its path using obstacle avoidance technology called Reactive AI.

Hands on with the Roborock S6 MaxV robot vacuum. Intelligent camera for no more pet poop disasters zdnet

Pet poop and electrical cable recognition in a room

Eileen Brown

The camera estimates the location and size and will reroute its path around the object. The images are captured at 30fps using a Qualcomm AP 8053 processor to capture objects down to 5cm wide x 3cm high. It will even avoid a cup of coffee placed on the floor.

The S6 MaxV will recognize and identify five different categories of objects and will indicate the degree of certainty on the app map. It recognizes scales, power strips, footwear, pedestals, and pet waste. If you have ever read the post about what happens when a Roomba encounters pet poop, then you will understand what a boon camera recognition could be for your home if you have pets.

The S6 MaxV will also recognize unknown objects and will clean around them, too, marking them on the map. 

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If you are concerned about security issues -- like camera images of your messy space going to the cloud -- there is a privacy sticker on the camera. This reads: "To protect your privacy images captured by Reactive AI cameras are processed onboard and immediately deleted." No data is duplicated, stored, or sent to the cloud.

I suppose you could leave the sticker on the camera cover if you were so worried, but that would negate the object recognition features of the S6 MaxV. The vacuum has a powerful suction of 2500Pa -- yet at 67dB it seems much quieter than other, less powerful robot vacuums, and its 460ml capacity dustbin means less frequent emptying.

It is really easy to connect the S6 MaxV app. Scan the QR code on the unit to connect the device. Answer the "Do you have pets?" question and wait until the robot has paired. This question seems bizarre, but it ensures that the robot will add the pet poop recognition feature to the camera.

If you have had the robot for a few months, and then get a pet, you can change the setting in the app to ensure that the S6 MaxV will look out for pet poop in future cycles.

It finds this object, too. Roborock kindly supplied a very realistic plastic pet poop sample for the S6 MaxV to avoid.

On the app, click "enter" and configure the settings such as mopping water levels and suction power as well as setting schedules for each zone or individual room of the total area. Once the robot has mapped out your space it recognizes rooms, coloring them separately for you to set individual cleaning schedule times.

Hands on with the Roborock S6 MaxV robot vacuum. Intelligent camera for no more pet poop disasters zdnet
EIleen Brown

It scans the room using the LIDAR radar on the top of the robot. The detailed map of the area enables you to set areas where the robot is not to go.

You can set separate no-mop areas -- in rooms with carpets -- or configure areas where the robot is not to vacuum. You can also set different schedules for each zone or room mapped.

The room recognition feature can split each level into different rooms. Objects that it avoided are shown on the map along with a level of confidence in percentage for each item recognized, which is impressive.

Hands on with the Roborock S6 MaxV robot vacuum. Intelligent camera for no more pet poop disasters zdnet
EIleen Brown

If you have a large space to clean -- and the vacuum has not got enough battery remaining to finish the space -- it will return to its charging dock, and recharge itself until it has sufficient battery to return to the space and finish the clean.

Its 5,200mAh battery will cover around 250 square meters -- more than enough for a reasonably-sized set of rooms.

The S6 MaxV's mopping feature is very similar to the S5 Max. The mop provides spring pressure to the floor to give an even mop throughout the cleaning cycle.

The mop will clean up to 200 square meters of hard flooring before returning to be recharged.

If your floor is filthy, you might need to clean it manually first. This is a daily mopping and vacuuming robot -- not a deep cleaning floor washing robot

I particularly like the multi-level mapping feature. The robot recognizes that it is on a different floor of your home (it will recognize up to four different levels) and will remember the different no-go, no-mop zones and no-go lines for each floor (up to 10).

The app also shows the mapping route taken by the robot vacuum. You can see the location and progress of the S6 MaxV when it is cleaning the room. If you lose the robot, the Find my robot link invokes a "Hi, I'm over here" voice so you can locate it.

The only issue I had when the robot was in use was that it has problems getting over one of my thresholds, which is higher than all other thresholds in the house. Most robots I have tried tend to give up with an error.

However, sometimes the S6 MaxV moved along the threshold to a lower part and successfully crossed into the other room. It seems to be more "rugged" than some other vacuums that gave up at this point.

Unfortunately, it did not remember the easiest part of the threshold to cross and got stuck about one in five times. But, I'm splitting hairs here, trying to find a fault in an otherwise great device.

All in all, the Roborock S6 MaxV is a superb high-end robot vacuum with obstacle avoidance and an app that is easy to configure. For $749, it could be the only robot vacuum you will ever need to buy.