Here’s a five-word horror story: Robot vacuum meets dog poop. I’ve never experienced this disaster firsthand, but imagine it would be traumatizing enough to swear off floor-cleaning robots for life. The $849.99 iRobot Roomba j7+ promises to solve this problem by using a built-in camera and machine learning technology to detect and automatically avoid common obstacles, namely pet waste and cords. It’s smart in other ways, too. For example, it can detect (and then bypass) potential obstacles based on your feedback. When it docks after a cleaning run, the robot automatically empties its dustbin into an allergen-sealed bag. And while its battery life doesn’t blow us away, the robot will navigate back to its base to recharge and then pick up where it left off when it runs low on power. So despite its premium price, the j7+ earns our Editors’ Choice award for high-end robotic vacuums, especially if you have a cluttered home or accident-prone pets.
The Roomba j7+ costs $849.99 and comes with a self-emptying base that charges the robot and holds around 60 days’ worth of debris in its Dirt Disposal bag, depending on how often you vacuum and the cleanliness of your home. You can get the Roomba j7 with a standard docking station for $649.99, but I highly recommend springing for the self-emptying base, especially if you suffer from allergies.
The j7+ is the second most expensive robot vacuum in iRobot’s current lineup, undercutting only the $1,099 Roomba s9+. Both have their strengths: the s9+ offers stronger suction power and gets deeper into corners thanks to its D shape, while the j7+ boasts more advanced obstacle avoidance technology.
iRobot doesn’t specify the pascal (Pa) suction power of its robot vacuums, like most other vendors, but says the Roomba j7+ is 10 times stronger than its entry-level Roomba 600 series. The s9+ offers 40 times the suction power of the 600 series, making it the strongest choice among iRobot’s lineup for homes with carpets or shedding pets. But if your floors are crowded with lots of furniture or other objects, or your pets occasionally have accidents in the house, the Roomba j7+ is the better option.
No More Smeared Pet Poo
The j7+ is the first model with iRobot’s PrecisionVision Navigation technology, a combination of hardware and software that allows it to recognize obstacles in its cleaning path in real time and automatically avoid them. iRobot moved the camera from the top of the robot, where it’s located on the s9+, to the front, giving it a wider field of view, and allowing it to see objects on the floor. The robot then uses artificial intelligence software to identify hazards and reroute itself around them.
iRobot says it has already trained its PrecisionVision Navigation machine learning algorithms to identify phone cords, power cables, and pet waste, using hundreds of millions of images crowdsourced from its customers who have opted in to contribute to its database. In the future, the company plans to expand the object recognition library to include other pitfalls that might prevent the robot from successfully docking after a cleaning job, including shoes and socks.
In testing, the j7+ did an excellent job of navigating around phone cords and power cables. As you can imagine, it was a bit harder to test its poop-avoidance abilities. My dog Bradley has his fair share of behavioral issues, but going to the bathroom in the house isn’t one of them. I attempted to test the poop-avoidance feature using balled-up black and brown socks, but the Roomba j7+ collided with both. It typically pushed the socks out of the way, but in one instance, I watched it navigate around a brown pair. Since I wasn’t using actual pet waste, I can’t verify that the new poop-avoidance technology works, but I also can’t verify that it doesn’t.
For its part, iRobot is so confident in its new technology that it’s offering the Roomba j7+ with a P.O.O.P. (Pet Owner Official Promise) guarantee: If the robot fails to avoid solid pet waste within a year of your purchase, the company will give you a new one for free.
iRobot isn’t bringing its new poop-avoidance feature to older models, even the premium Roomba s9 series, because of the location of the cameras on those models. The s9+ uses 3D sensor technology to detect obstacles and clean around them, but it can’t identify objects shorter than about an inch.
The Roomba j7+ isn’t the first robot vacuum with AI-powered obstacle-avoidance technology. The $799.99 Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI, another Editors’ Choice winner among premium floor-cleaning robots, offers similar technology; in our testing, it successfully avoided dog toys that have tripped up competitors.
Getting to Know the Roomba j7+
The j7+ measures 13.3 inches in diameter and 3.4 inches tall, a standard size for most robot vacuums. If you’re searching for a shorter model capable of passing under low-profile furniture, we suggest the Eufy RoboVac G30, which stands just 2.85 inches tall.
The Roomba j7+ has a Clean button on top, the aforementioned camera on the front edge, and a wall-follow sensor on the side. On the bottom, it has two multi-surface rubber brushrolls, one edge-sweeping brush, six cliff sensors that prevent it from falling down the stairs, and a floor-tracking sensor for navigation. The brushrolls rotate in opposite directions to agitate and lift dirt from carpet fibers and surfaces, as well as to prevent hair tangles.
A light ring around the Clean Button spirals white when the robot is charging, shows red when its battery is low, and turns blue when it’s seeking its charging station.
When the robot encounters a heavily soiled area, it will engage Dirt Detect mode, a feature available across iRobot’s lineup, even on the entry-level Roomba 675. In Dirt Detect mode, the light ring indicator will flash blue as the robot moves back and forth to clean the area until its sensors detect fewer particles.
The self-emptying base is fairly compact at about 13.0 by 12.5 by 15.0 inches (HWD). It looks classy, with a matte ribbed texture on the front and a leather pull tab to open the canister lid. The canister hides the installed Dirt Disposal bag and offers storage for one extra. You only get those two in the box; when you run out, you can purchase a pack of three for $19.99.
When you open the box, the first thing you encounter is a small guide that offers setup instructions. To start, set up the changing station near an outlet, in an area with good Wi-Fi coverage, at least 1.5 feet away from anything to the left, 4 feet from anything to the right, and 4 feet across from anything.
Next, pick up the robot and place it on the charger, making sure to align its metal contacts with the ones on the base. After a minute or so, the robot will emit a sound, letting you know it’s awake.
From there, you need to download the iRobot Home app (available for Android and iOS) and create an account if you don’t already have one. When you first sign into the app, it asks for permission to find and connect to devices on your local network; press OK. Then, press the menu icon in the top left corner of the app and select Add a Robot. When it finds your Roomba j7+, press Set Up. The app then brings up a Wi-Fi screen where you must select and sign in to your home network.
After that, the app instructs you to press the button on top of the robot to connect it to your phone. Once the connection is successful, the app will ask you to name the robot.
At this point in the setup process, I got a pop-up notification from the Amazon Alexa app informing me that the Roomba j7+ automatically connected to the virtual assistant via the iRobot Home skill, which I had previously enabled when testing an earlier model. I also had no problem connecting it with Google Assistant via the Google Home app (tap the plus sign in the upper left corner > Set up device > Works with Google > iRobot Smart Home, and follow the on-screen instructions to link your accounts).
In its entirety, the app and virtual assistant setup process only took a couple of minutes. The robot worked perfectly with Alexa and Google Assistant; it let me start and stop cleaning runs with voice commands. The Roomba j7+ is much easier to set up in this regard and responds better to voice commands than many competing robots, including the $599 self-emptying Neabot NoMo N1.
Smart Mapping and Obstacle Avoidance
On its first few runs, the Roomba j7+ will map your floor plan, enabling many smart features including targeted room vacuuming, virtual boundaries, and scheduled area cleanings. iRobot says it usually takes two complete runs for the Roomba j7+ to finish creating a Smart Map, but in my case, it took three. If you want to speed up the process, you can send it out on a mapping run, where the robot will focus only on exploring your home.
In comparison, most robot vacuums with a raised Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) sensor on top, including the $949.98 Roborock S7+ and the $250 Wyze Robot Vacuum, can map your home in one run. But iRobot’s smart features are easier to use than most of the competition, so it’s not a huge deal that the Roomba j7+ takes a few more runs to get started.
When mapping your home, the j7+ automatically divides your floor plan into multiple rooms. After this you can edit, add, or delete the boundary lines as needed, as well as label each room on the map. I easily separated my open concept living and dining space into two separate rooms, then labeled each room on the map, a task that has proven difficult with many other robot vacuums.
To start a cleaning run from the app, tap Vacuum Everywhere or New Job. If you press New Job, you can select individual rooms on the map. The app also lets you manually create and intelligently suggests Clean Zones around smaller areas within a room. That way, you can send the robot right to high-traffic areas, like your entryway, under the kitchen table, or around the couch.
You can also create a cleaning schedule, so the robot automatically vacuums at a certain time. You can even schedule targeted cleaning runs; for example, you can configure the Roomba j7+ to vacuum under the kitchen table every night after dinner.
The j7+ successfully maneuvered around furniture and traversed area rugs, carpeting, and hard flooring with ease. It only got stuck on the door threshold of my converted garage, which is a step down from the main level. After it got stuck in this spot three separate times, I manually created a Keep-Out Zone around the area in the app, and the robot successfully avoided it on subsequent runs. If you enable notifications, the iRobot app will send you an alert when the robot gets stuck, so you can go rescue it.
Before several runs, I scattered balled socks and dog toys all over the floor, and, unlike many other robot vacuums I’ve tested, the Roomba j7+ never once got stuck on them. I also witnessed it wiggle its way away from long curtains without getting stuck, another area that has tripped up many competitors.
As it cleans, the j7+ snaps images of obstacle areas it encounters. It then asks you to review the images, and specify whether the robot should clean or avoid those areas in the future. In testing, the Roomba j7+ surfaced many obstacles for review, presenting me with images of phone cords, power cables, and various other clutter on the floor.
It only takes a minute or so to review the obstacle images, and doing so can prove extremely useful. For each image, you can mark the area as a temporary obstacle, no obstacle, or add a Keep-Out Zone. Using this method, I was able to quickly and easily create Keep-Out Zones around several spots that have halted other robot vacuums, including the cords under my bedroom dresser.
My only gripe is that the robot occasionally fails to connect when I open the iRobot app after it’s been running in the background. Fortunately, I have always easily overcome this issue by closing out of the app and reopening it.
Vacuuming and Auto-Emptying Performance
The Roomba j7+ moves quickly and efficiently, vacuuming in orderly rows instead of haphazardly ping-ponging from wall to wall like some cheaper robot vacuums.
In testing, it vacuumed for up to 86 minutes on a charge. That’s not the best battery life result we’ve seen, but if it starts running low before finishing a job, the robot will return to its dock to juice up, then resume cleaning where it left off.
The j7+ typically finishes vacuuming my 1,000 square-foot main level in around 75 minutes. If you have a larger home, it might not be able to finish vacuuming your entire floor plan in one pass. Several competitors can clean for 100 minutes or more, and might be better suited for spacious abodes. For instance, the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI and the Neabot NoMo N1 lasted up to 170 and 149 minutes in testing, respectively.
After each run, my floors looked noticeably cleaner. My pitbull Bradley sheds, and the Roomba j7+ did an excellent job of collecting his fur from my hard floors and carpeting.
In terms of volume, the Roomba j7+ generally puts out around 60db of sound, according to readings from the NIOSH Sound Level Meter app. The CDC says that’s about as loud as a normal conversation or air conditioner. It’s quieter when cleaning over carpet versus hard flooring. Standing right over it while it was cleaning laminate, I measured its volume at 66db, which is approaching the threshold the CDC says people typically find annoying (70db).
The app’s History section keeps a detailed record of the robot’s vacuuming runs. For each session, it shows where the Roomba j7+ vacuumed on a map, its duration, the square footage it covered, the number of dirt events and obstacle areas it encountered, and whether it emptied its bin.
When the j7+ docks after cleaning, the auto-empty function initiates automatically. It gets pretty loud for about 15 seconds—about the volume of an old-school standing vacuum—as it sucks all the debris from the robot’s bin into the dust bag. Most competing bots with an auto-empty base work the same way.
The Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty XL R101AE, on the other hand, has a unique, bagless auto-empty system that isn’t as allergy-friendly, but is better for those worried about the ongoing cost of replacement bags.
After more than half a dozen cleaning runs, the vacuum’s dustbin was completely empty, meaning its contents were successfully transferred to the bag each time. To my surprise and delight, its rubber brushrolls were free of hair.
Smart and Capable
At $849.99, the iRobot Roomba j7+ might induce sticker shock, but it’s one of the smartest robot vacuums you can buy. Its top features include advanced AI-powered obstacle-avoidance technology, an attractively designed base, and two rubber brushrolls that prevent hair tangles. Best of all, it doesn’t require much attention on your end and truly gets better at navigating your home with each run. And while it can’t stop your dog from making a mess in the house, the vacuum comes with a guarantee that it won’t smear any such accidents all over your floors. Thanks to its excellent performance and smarts, the Roomba j7+ earns our Editors’ Choice award for high-end robot vacuums. It it’s out of your budget, we also highly recommend the Shark IQ Robot Self-Empty XL R101AE. While it isn’t quite as smart or allergy-friendly as the j7+, it offers similar features and performance for a more approachable $599.