With all the convenience robot vacuums have brought to household cleaning, there is still the nuisance of having to clear clutter from the floor before letting the robovac do its thing. Many of these “obstacles” are regular parts of the household landscape—power strips, bathroom scales, even neatly lined up shoes in the entryway. While most bot vacs can ably avoid walls and furniture, these smaller objects are potential hazards that can ensnare the vacuum and halt its cleaning.
Roborock’s S6 MaxV is the first robot vacuum I’ve encountered to directly address this. It looks similar to the Roborock S6, but with the addition of a stereo camera on the front bumper. This camera—which appropriately enough evokes a pair of eyes—captures images at a max speed of 30fps and processes them through ReactiveAI powered by a Qualcomm AP 8053 processor. This allows the robot vacuum to recognize and avoid common obstacles like shoes, scales, power strips, and even pet waste (Roborock thoughtfully includes a rubber dog poo with the vacuum to prove this) and avoid them.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best robot vacuums, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping.
The rest of the S6 MaxV looks much like previous Roborock vacuums. On the underside, there’s a single rolling brush flanked by a silicone-bristled side brush, drive wheels, and sensors. A small water tank, to which you can attach a mopping pad, slots into the back of the vacuum and the dustbin sits under the top lid behind the LIDAR turret.
Setting up the S6 MaxV is simple. Log in to the Roborock app and then press the Spot Clean and Dock buttons on top of the vacuum simultaneously until you hear the voice prompt say, “resetting Wi-Fi.” Tap the plus sign in the app to add the vacuum and it will scan for the S6 MaxV, then prompt you to log in to your wireless network. During this setup you’re also asked if you have pets; a “yes” answer will ensure the vacuum recognizes pet poop. If you don’t currently have a pet, you can always activate this setting later if you get one.
The first time you run the S6 MaxV it builds a map of the floor plan using LIDAR radar and divides it into color-coded rooms. These maps are usually accurate, but if they’re not you can edit them once the map is saved. You can add no-go zones, no-mop zones, and invisible walls to any map to keep the vacuum out of these areas. Conversely, there’s a pin-and-go feature that lets you tap any point on the map and the vacuum will navigate directly to it. You can also schedule cleanings on a room-by-room basis.
The map features get exponentially more useful if you live in a multi-level home. The S6 MaxV can recognize up to four different levels and you can save maps for each, complete with their own virtual boundaries. You just load the appropriate map before you start cleaning.
Most impressively, though, the S6 MaxV marks and identifies the obstacles it encounters on the map and includes a level of confidence, displayed as a percentage, that it has identified the object correctly. As with any robot vacuum navigation technology, results are hit or miss in the beginning but improve the more the vacuum is used and has a chance to “learn” your space. You can help it along by letting it know when it has misidentified something by correcting it in the app.
There are five vacuuming modes to choose from: Gentle, Silent, Balanced, Turbo, and Max. Roborock doesn’t provide much detail about the differences but suffice it to say there is a tradeoff between suction power and noise level as you toggle between these. The S6 MaxV is the most powerful robot vacuum in the Roborock stable, with a max suction of 2500Pa, 25 percent more than the S6.
Like the S6, this vacuum lets you control the amount of water dispensed for mop jobs with four preset levels, selectable from the app. This flexibility lets you conserve water while given the latitude for everything from a light dry mopping to a serious scrubbing.
Mapping enhances these functions as well: Suction settings and water levels can be set and saved on a room-by-room basis.
Using the S6 MaxV makes vacuuming, dare I say, enjoyable. The map gives you a level of control over cleaning rarely offered by even the top brands. The room-by-room settings are a boon to large and multi-floor homes, and in my own home allowed me to customize for the carpeted, hardwood, and tiled floors that make up the downstairs level. The vacuum had no problem remembering the settings for each of these different floor surfaces nor transitioning smoothly from one to the other and back again.
The obstacle recognition is truly next level, not just in its ability to avoid objects, but in how that shortens cleaning time. While other robot vacuums I’ve used, including other Roborock models, can maneuver around, say, a pair of shoes, by the time they recognize them they’re close enough to get ensnared by the laces. The S6 MaxV’s early recognition of those same shoes gives it plenty of time to avoid them completely. And less time disentangling shoelaces is less time wasted.
The S6 MaxV didn’t recognize every obstacle in my tests. The vacuum can “see” objects down to 5cm (2 inches) wide and 3cm (1.1 inch) tall, but that leaves a whole host of smaller obstacles, from skinny mobile device cords to snagged carpet fibers, undetectable. When the vacuum got caught on these, I got an alert in the app so I could go free the vacuum.
Overall, though, the S6 MaxV was a joy to use. It kept my floor mostly dirt-free and its companion app provided all the control and customization I needed to tailor cleanings to my home. You can’t ask for much more from a robot vacuum.