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  • Marissa Gonçalves

Cleaning Effectiveness and Data Privacy Issues of Automatic Vacuum Robots

By: Marissa Gonçalves



Vacuum robots are automated versions of traditional vacuums that navigate independently with sensors, cleaning floor surfaces depending on how users program them. These electronic devices could incorporate additional cleaning tools such as rotating brushes, sterilization solutions, and mopping attachments to cleanse various floor types. In addition, recently manufactured vacuum robot models have installed intercom systems and security cameras to maintain cleaning areas according to user preferences (Robovac - History of Robotic Vacuum Cleaner, n.d.). In contrast with users who purchase on-device setting robots, some phone applications and smart speakers like Alexa also control maneuvering modern robot models when users travel to remote locations (Haines, 2021). This report will discuss the significance of vacuum robots for cleaning residential and institutional sites and address data privacy and security issues regarding the technology’s built-in cameras.


Cleaning Solutions for Homes and Businesses


Most retail stores sell vacuum robots, and busy customers purchase these compact machines to clean their homes for them (Robot Vacuum Cleaners - Everything You Need To Know, 2019). In 2020, the U.S. market size for vacuum robots reached 9.77 billion in revenue, indicating increased interest from citizens in these appliances (Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Market Size, Share | Global Report, 2028, n.d.).


A 6-month study by Julia Fink and her colleagues investigated iRobot Roomba cleaner behaviors within nine homes. The experiment featured 30 participants aged between 1 and 71 with different family sizes, reported robot-human interactions and examined machine habits, reliability, and ease of use. As a result, the study found that these devices are helpful but cannot fully replace traditional cleaning habits, and humans cannot entirely trust the Roomba in their homes (Fink et al., 2013). Thus, vacuum robots are very effective cleaning tools to assist humans with their sanitization priorities but have limitations in deep cleaning and social acceptance.



While living in the COVID-19 era, institutions and businesses are increasingly curious to supply independent vacuum robots to disinfect surfaces and floors to protect customer and client health. A study by Sandhya Vidyashankar and her colleague presented a robotic vacuum cleaning solution incorporating an Arduino Uno microcontroller for the robot to avoid obstacles and installed hydrogen peroxide pumps and ultraviolet light to disinfect areas in numerous public organizations and hospitals. Consequently, the study concludes that the economically designed vacuum robot maneuvered independently around its surroundings (Vidyashankar & Srinivasa, 2021). Therefore, further research should concentrate on maintaining costs while improving efficient robot navigation and cleaning algorithms.

Overall, both scientific studies demonstrate beneficial evidence in proving the presence of advanced cleanliness techniques performed by vacuum robots. Nevertheless, these devices still need enhanced algorithms with efficient designs so that humans can entirely rely on them in completing future sanitation tasks.


Data Privacy and Security Camera Issues


Although some vacuum robots have state-of-the-art digital cameras that capture local areas and map rooms for proper cleaning navigation, data privacy and security are still concerns among users that possess vacuum robot cameras (Ansaldo, 2018). For example, the iRobot Roomba actively shares third-party data with smart speakers and screens such as Google Home and Echo Show due to WiFi connectivity (Rae, 2021). Currently, vacuum robot companies such as Ecovacs and Roborock provide AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption for their products, which block ciphers determined by the U.S. government to encrypt sensitive data (Bernstein & Cobb, 2021). However, two-factor authentication is still required to protect user confidentiality with email and text verification. Corporations should take these plans seriously if crucial camera hacker situations arise (Velasco, 2020).



Human-robot interaction (HRI) raised many moral concerns since people apprehended whether these machines would replace their economy and employment opportunities. In addition, vacuum robots classify themselves as service robots since they can complete risky tasks without human error. A study by Reza Etemad-Sajadi asked 341 volunteers to give their opinions on robots after watching an educational video on robotics. Subsequently, the results demonstrate that robots replacing humans in labor duties is the most significant issue, which associates with vacuum robots substituting human cleaning duties (Etemad-Sajadi et al., 2022).


Hence, I acknowledge that vacuum robots may have data breaches and moral concerns due to frequently mapping surroundings taken by their cameras. However, even though collected data personalize user experiences, every manufactured device should accumulate monitored accessed information for all users. These appliances should enable private default privacy settings and ask for user permissions to help reduce confidentiality concerns.

Conclusion


This report explains the applications of vacuum robots for cleaning purposes. These devices are effective in cleaning multiple floor surfaces within homes and businesses. However, we must acknowledge data confidentiality and security concerns from robot cameras to improve user privacy for future models. Therefore, further artificial intelligence studies can examine vacuum robot advantages in vast cleansing areas.

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