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High-Tech Vacuum Cleaners that Rosie the Robot Would Love

Robotic, high-tech vacuum cleaners bring futuristic, automated, hands-free floor-sweeping to today’s households.

The Jetsons had a robotic vacuum that cleaned the room without human assistance. With today's gadgets on the market, you can enjoy the same luxury. Image: Hanna-Barbera/Everett Collection

Beeping and whirring its way across the floor, the Jetsons’ robotic vacuum could navigate obstacles while collecting debris. Amazingly, the technology driving these futuristic critters is already here—along with a payload of other high-tech vacuuming time-savers that make this chore, frankly, suck less.

Here’s a sampling of possibilities that would make Rosie the Robot green envy:

Robotic vacuums & sweepers

Not unlike the Jetsons’ model (only without “eyes”), low-slung floor slaves, such as the iconic Roomba®, navigate around the room without your guidance—or energy—avoiding obstacles and drop-offs.

A variety of technologies are behind the magic, including infrared sensors, video imaging, and positioning technology similar to GPS. Cooler still, these devices steer themselves back to their recharging stations to plug in and “refuel.”

Alternate options for robotic cleaners include one designed for hard floors; rather than vacuum, it cleans with wet or dry, replaceable pads. Another model features a wireless internet-enabled camera that lets you broadcast video over the internet, or tune in from a remote location to see what your robot sees.

Robotic vacuums sell for $130 to $900 and up.

Small but mighty

Don’t let the diminutive size steer you away from some of today’s handheld vacuums. The Dyson DC26 handheld, for example, weighs 12 pounds and promises double the suction power of a regular handheld vacuum cleaner by employing centrifugal force.

Just for fun, one model by Whatever Works mimics the look of a traditional upright vacuum but stands only 8 inches tall. Plug it into your computer’s USB port and use it to suck up lunchtime debris around your laptop.

Small but mighty vacuums run the price gamut from $20 to $400.

Weird science

Some out-of-this-world vacuums are only in the concept stage, such as Electrolux’s vacuum shoes that clean while you glide your feet across the floor.

But other futuristic ideas are available now, including the Halo UV-ST upright vacuum, which uses ultraviolet light to kill dust mites, viruses, flea eggs, mold, and germs. Priced from $120 to $400.

Steamy helper

Save time with the Bissell Steam & Sweep™ (about $100). Fill the reservoir with water, plug it in, turn it on, and it steam-sanitizes your hard surface floor as you vacuum. Add natural eucalyptus oil ($11) for an aromatic cleaning experience.

Save your back

To avoid stooping to a dustpan, check out the Eye-Vac Electric Dustpan. Sweep dirt and litter near the stationary electric dustpan and it turns on automatically and sucks up the debris. Good for cleaning up hair from the Jetsons’ dog, Astro. Sells for about $100.

Pet projects

Speaking of Astro, there’s an entire line of high-tech vacuum products designed with pet owners in mind. The Dyson Groom Tool, for example, is a pet brush accessory. As you brush your pet, shed hair is sucked directly into the vacuum. Sells for about $70.

There’s also a robotic vacuum for pet owners. The iRobot Roomba 562 Pet Series has an extra set of brushes and two cleaning bins to accommodate quantities of pet hair, dander, and food. Sells for about $370.