SwitchBot made a name for themselves with little "finger robots" that could add automation smarts to otherwise dumb switches and buttons, but they've been slowly expanding their home automation empire. Today they're making a big leap into home cleaning, with the SwitchBot S10 robot vacuum/mop, as previewed by The Verge.
I'm a big fan of robot vacuums and have had a few Roombas trundling around my house for years now. But I've been eyeing an upgrade to a robot that also includes mopping, but there's just one problem that takes the hands-off smart out of every solution: the need to manually empty the dirty water and refill. There are some docking options that mean I don't have to do that as often, but that's still less than ideal as it requires regular maintenance to continue operating as desired — not to mention the heinously expensive prices.
SwitchBot's engineers must've had the same "Hrmph" reaction as I do when thinking about that, because they designed the S10 vacuum/mop robot — their first — to turn that function on its head. Instead of a big mega dock that wraps up emptying the onboard dust bin, draining the waste water, and refilling the clean water, with large manual-refill reservoirs on top, they opted to separate the vacuum and mop docking functions into separate units, and designed the mop dock to easily hook into your plumbing for automated, never-touch refill and draining.
This means the SwitchBot S10 can effectively mop forever without you ever having to raise a finger. When the onboard clean water reservoir is empty it just drives over to the water dock, hooks up, uses its onboard battery to provide power for the pumps, drains the dirty water into your plumbed drain (or wherever else you want to run the drain hose, like up into a sink or toilet bowl), and refills with fresh water straight from the tap. And when the vacuum side is full or the battery is low, it goes to the vacuum dock to empty the dustbin and recharge.
It's the kind of clever solution that's eluded the likes of iRobot Roomba, Roborock, Ecovacs, and more. And very much a "well why didn't I think of that?"
But wait, there's more. That ability to empty and refill the water autonomously and forever means that the SwitchBot S10 can pull double duty as a water carrier. SwitchBot is also introducing a smart humidifier that has a built-in dock for the S10, so when it's in need of a top-off the robot can go over to the water dock, fill itself up, and carry that water over to the humidifier for offloading. In theory it could work with a number of water-hungry but unattached items around the house, like emptying a dehumidifier or watering plants or refilling your pet's water bowl.
Of course, the SwitchBot 10 covers all the rest of the table stakes items in a modern high-end robot vac, including lidar mapping and AI-powered obstacle avoidance from the camera on the front. Though SwitchBot's stuff has generally been pretty affordable, it's also generally been pretty simple. The SwitchBot S10 is a big jump up in complexity and size, and requires big investments in the kind of tech that SwitchBot hasn't been dabbling it. It doubtless won't be cheap, but I wouldn't be surprised if it manages to undercut the likes of iRobot and Roborock.