SwitchBot may be best known for its retrofit smart home gadgets such as smart curtains and blinds, but its newest device sees the company step into more intelligent robotics with its first robot vacuum, the SwitchBot S10.
Unlike other robot vacuums, however, this clever automated floor cleaner can refill and empty its own water tank, and even fill up the SwitchBot S10 Refilling Humidifier 2, which will be available for purchase separately as an add-on to the robot vacuum set.
I've used a few of SwitchBot's more straightforward retrofit devices such as the SwitchBot Bot and the SwitchBot Lock, and although they're not as sophisticated and slick as pricier, more complex smart home devices, they fill an essential gap in the smart home market as people begin transforming their "dumb" homes (no offense) into intelligent and automated living spaces.
So, I was pretty surprised to hear the company had made such a leap into more intelligent robotics; however, it's added its own retrofit twist in true SwitchBot style.
Plumb me up, buttercup
Some of the best robot vacuums now offer mopping as well as vacuuming, however, this comes with its drawbacks. More premium robovacs in particular tend to come with an auto-empty dock, but the mopping functions tend to still be pretty manual, requiring you to regularly refill the water tank, empty waste water, and replace mopping pads or rollers.
It's hardly the end of the world, but this manual interaction can sometimes defeat the purpose of having an automated vacuuming device in the first place; if you're away from home and haven't recently refilled the water tank, your vacuum won't run, and stagnant wastewater can emit foul-smelling odors.
Upon first hearing about SwitchBot's new and fully automated robot vacuum and mop, I was pretty confused. I was imagining everything from robotic arms operating my faucets to a robovac-shaped cat flap that'd see my floor-cleaning friend heading to the nearest ground-level water source to refill (and given that my nearest river is the Thames in London, I wasn't sold on the idea).
However, it's much simpler than that. The SwitchBot S10 comes with two docks; one for emptying the vacuum and charging, the other for refilling the mop tank and emptying out dirty water. The latter is where things get clever; its tanks will be connected directly to your indoor plumbing with two clever retrofit pipes.
While I've not personally tried hooking it up, I had the opportunity to see how the system works at IFA 2023. While it's not the slickest setup, it's impressively effective.
Then, of course, there's the humidifier, which comes as a separate dock that the robot vacuum will refill and empty, transferring water from one station to the next. We don't have pricing or availability for this just yet, but I imagine it'll come pretty soon after the main device launches on Kickstarter on October 13.
All that glitters is not gold
Now, it's worth highlighting that the robot vacuum itself isn't the most sophisticated you can buy. The anti-tangle rubber vacuum roller is pretty narrow and the side brush is a little feeble, so it might not offer the most thorough clean. However, it does have 6500pa suction and carpet detection.
Instead of mop pads, SwitchBot has opted for a self-cleaning and drying roller mop, which retracts up into the device. During my live demo, co-founder Richard Mou explained that this roller has minimal carpet contact and thanks to its self-drying mechanism, wouldn't get carpets wet when moving away from hard floors – but I'd want to test that theory for myself, as it's a problem I've seen in multiple robot vacuums at this point.
It does have LiDAR navigation technology for mapping and navigation, onboard AI for obstacle avoidance, and in the SwitchBot app, you can easily assign rooms and no-go zones.
These drawbacks do make the SwitchBot S10 slightly less appealing for me personally, as I'd prefer the thorough clean I get from my top-of-the-range iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ over ease of use, but it's certainly an exciting look into how connected smart home devices might continue to integrate into our homes in different ways.
The Switchbot S10 will launch on Kickstarter on October 13th for $1199.99 (UK prices to be confirmed).