Robotic vacuum cleaners, like those made by Roomba, represent the best of what our past selves expected from the future: an automated life full of robots doing our bidding. It’s likely that Roomba is responsible for selling more robots than any other company in history, and that has afforded them a prestigious position in the consumer market that lets them charge a lot of money for their products. Fortunately, the hardware needed to build a robotic vacuum cleaner is relatively affordable. If you’ve got the skills, you can build this Roomba-esque open source robotic vacuum cleaner for less than $100.
This is the second version (MARK II) of this project, which was originally designed by a pair of students for a class project. Like a Roomba, this robot capable of moving around an area autonomously. It’s not completely clear how clever the navigation algorithm is, or if it’s capable of mapping a room. It also doesn’t seem to be capable of automatically returning to a charging dock. But, because the project is open source, you could always add those features. The design utilizes ultrasonic sensors on each side of the robot to detect walls and other obstacles, so it should be easy to work with.
The new MARK II is controlled by an Arduino Nano, with a Bluetooth module that lets users control the vacuum cleaner remotely via a smartphone app. A large LiPo battery provides power for those, and for the vacuum and drive motors. That vacuum motor is a radial blower that pulls air and dirt into the collection bin, and then expels the exhaust air through a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air filter. A pair of small motors spin the drive wheels. The entire body of the robot is 3D-printable, and the final footprint is just 196mm x 196mm. If you want an open source robotic vacuum cleaner to tinker with, this is a great design to start with.