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Robot Vacuum with Mapping Vs No Mapping: Which One’s Better & Why

When it comes to cleaning your home, there are two types of robot vacuums to choose from. One type uses mapping features, while the other one does not have mapping capabilities.

Robot vacuums with mapping features can be wired to understand each and every corner of your home.

This is not possible with non-mapped robot vacuums. Yet even though they lack mapping abilities, they don’t operate blindly. Non-mapped vacuums come with advanced sensors that help them detect obstacles and cliffs with remarkable ease.

The question then remains – which one of the two is better and why?

Read on to understand the key differences between the two types before you invest in any of them.

Is it Essential for a Robot Vacuum to Have Mapping Features?

It is not compulsory for a robot vacuum to have a mapping feature. However, if you have the ability to invest in a model with advanced mapping features, it is worth the cost. The pros and cons of robot vacuums with mapping abilities include;


  • Ability to clean thoroughly and more efficiently 
  • Shorter runtime to complete vacuuming tasks
  • Lower risk of collision against household items


  • Pricier compared to vacuums without navigation features

On the other hand, the pros and cons of a robot vacuum without mapping features are;


  • Relatively cheaper compared to models with mapping features
  • Less complicated to set up and run


  • Can be inefficient and less thorough in cleaning
  • May take longer runtime to complete tasks
  • Regular bumps and collisions with surrounding objects

How Robot Vacuums with Mapping Features and Non-Mapped Vacuums Work

In order to better understand how the robot vacuum mapping vs no mapping duel unfolds it’s good to take a close look at their respective features.

Robot Vacuums with Navigation Features

Advanced and modern robot vacuums are high-end and sophisticated since they use laser sensors to detect obstacles in their surroundings. In general, the following two technologies dominate:

  • LIDAR navigation system: Known as Light Detection and Ranging in full, this technology uses laser light to detect the distance the vacuum is from the objects in its vicinity.  
  • VSLAM mapping system:  The initials VSLAM stand for Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. Robot vacuums with this technology have cameras that they use to photograph barriers such as furniture, doors, and walls.

Either of the navigation systems provide crucial and helpful information for the cleaner to chart a precise path and direction to follow. The functionality also enables the robot to move systematically, unlike non-mapped vacuums that move haphazardly.

The ability to map out areas enables robots to focus and move in a clear path without a waste of time. As a matter of fact, the navigation features do improve the robot’s efficiency while reducing runtime.

Robot Vacuums Without Mapping Features

Robot vacuums without navigation features use basic sensors to identify the cleaning path. The robot has a bumper with sensors to pick out and avoid objects such as furniture, sofas, and other indoor items.

The bumper also controls the movement of the vacuum by pressing against a surface. The robot automatically reroutes the moment it senses an obstacle near it. The cleaner will rotate until it identifies a clear path. If it feels an object on the right, it shifts to the left or right.

Most non-mapped vacuums also come with cliff sensors. The cliff sensors are at the base of the vacuum and use infrared signals to know the distance to the floor. The moment the vacuum senses stairs or steps, it spins in a different direction.

In addition to cliff and obstacle sensors, some high-end non-mapped robots have extra wheel sensors. The cleaner uses the feature to locate straight routes and walls. Since the sensors are on the sides, they enable the vacuum to clean wall edges without collisions.

Some non-mapped vacs also have wheel-mounted sensors to record angular velocity and rotational speed to know the direction changes and travel distances. The sensor helps improve the accuracy of the robot.

Comparison Between Robot Vacuum with Mapped Navigation and Robot with No Mapping

Cleaning efficiency is a major difference between mapped robot vacuum cleaners and ones without mapping. Robots with mapping, though pricy, tend to be more efficient than ones without mapping.

Additional differences between the two robot vacuums include;

The Technology the Robot Vacuum Uses

Robot Vacuums with mapped navigation use modern technology such as LIDAR and VSLAM navigation systems.

Robot vacuum without mapping depends on standard sensors such as collision and cliff sensors.


Mapped robot vacuums are more expensive as they use advanced technology and are more efficient.

Unmapped robot vacuums are usually available at lower prices compared to the mapped type.

How thorough is the cleaning process

The mapped robot vacuums move systematically cleaning the mapped-out areas. As such, the robots do a great job of cleaning each place efficiently and thoroughly.

Non-mapped robot vacuums may clean some areas repeatedly while neglecting tight corners or places with objects.

Likelihood of Causing Damage to Household Items

Owing to their less-than-stellar way of detecting obstacles, non-mapped robot vacuums are at a higher risk of colliding with household items. As such, they are at a greater risk of incurring physical damage.

This is unlike mapped robot vacuums which can be trained to understand the unique features of your home thereby minimizing the risk of colliding with household items.

Length of Cleaning Period

There is minimal guesswork involved when operating a mapped robot vacuum. Due to that, robots with such technology tend to take significantly less time to complete tasks compared to their non-mapped counterparts.

LIDAR Vs. VSLAM – Which One’s Better?

One major difference between LIDAR and VSLAM navigation technologies is that the former uses laser technology while the latter uses visual analysis. As you can imagine, the laser-guided vacuum is bound to do a better job even in complete darkness because it does not rely on visual analysis to understand its surroundings.

Robot vacuum models with VSLAM navigation system include;

  • iRobot Roomba S9+
  • Shark AI Ultra 
  • Yeedi Mop Station Pro

Robot vacuum models that use LIDAR navigation system include;

  • Ecovac Deebot N8 Pro+
  • Roorock Q5
  • Samsung Jet Bot AI+