Even the most expensive robot vacuums—like those capable of emptying themselves so they can run autonomously for weeks—lack the ability to climb up and down stairs in order to clean multiple floors of a house. YouTuber Peter Sripol came up with a solution to that problem, but it’s a hack you probably won’t see as an official feature from companies like iRobot any time soon.
If you haven’t seen any of Sripol’s creations before, he’s a talented amateur hacker who’s particularly gifted when it comes to making things fly that perhaps should never actually take to the air, like leaf blowers, power drills, and gaming chairs. It’s this expertise that allowed Sripol to upgrade the capabilities of a cheap robotic vacuum he found on Amazon for less than $100. Out of the box, it came with obstacle avoidance and edge detection features allowing it to deftly navigate floors and avoid nasty tumbles. But by turning it into a drone, Sripol managed to take it to the next level—or should we say the next floor?
A trio of ducted fans, a bunch of electronics, and a block of batteries were all that was needed to allow the robovac to effortlessly move from one level of a home to another. As an added bonus, the immense downdraft coming from the ducted fans while the bot is airborne also serves to blast dust off whatever surfaces it happens to fly over as the vacuum moves from floor to floor.
There are a few downsides to the upgrade. The web of wires and various components taped to the robovac look terrifyingly sketchy, and it’s not autonomous—you’ll need a skilled pilot at the controls of a wireless remote to help guide the robovac between floors. It also isn’t cheap. The three ducted fans alone cost around $200 on Amazon, plus there’s the added cost of all the electronics, batteries, and a hobby-grade remote. You’re better off just spending that money on a separate robot vacuum for every floor of your house and avoid the potential for catastrophic crashes altogether.