Automating a household chore is both brilliant and efficient, because you can be productive with something less mundane. We’ve experienced the revolution that was the dishwasher, and now there’s a smart appliance that promises to be life changing.

Over the past few years, robot vacuum cleaners have entered the local market from globally recognisable brands such as iRobot to cost-effective ones like Xiaomi. Then there’s a whole lot more from brands you probably never heard of.

Robovacs are smart appliances that pair with a smartphone so it can be controlled and accessed using an app. It requires little maintenance and human intervention; it typically maps your house and cleans up by either vacuuming or mopping — or both.

Some of the more expensive models are self-emptying, otherwise all you’re required to do is empty it and fill water or detergent.

The Mail & Guardian has tested Hobot’s new powerful Legee 7 model that is a four-in-one vacuum mop. It scrubs and mops floors up to 900 times a minute from its 1 800g mopping force and 2 700Pa strong vacuum suction, which is clearly no match for a human.

It can vacuum, dry mop, spray water and wet mop. It has features such as an AI smart spray; seven cleaning modes and one custom, as well as spoken commands so you know what is happening in real-time. It pairs on Android and iOS, with support for voice assistants such as Siri and Google Assistant.

The Legee 7 also has advanced features like the ability to map your house, divide the rooms, create virtual barriers, and come up with the best route. It uses the simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) method to build a map the first time it runs on your floors.

Map data is stored in its embedded memory for up to five maps for different floors in another building or level in your home. Once the floors are mapped, you can merge or split rooms, according to your preferences and cleaning schedules. You also restrict it from going near furniture or delicate items.

It has one side-brush that goes over a surface area multiple times, making sure the clean is thorough and its AI smart spray ensures there is no residue left behind. Unlike some other robovacs on the market, the Legee 7 lets you add your own detergent for mopping; the others just take water in their tanks.

Although the app is not a great user experience, the Legee 7 was easy to set up and pair to an iPhone. It tells you when to empty the dustbin, fill the water tank and anything else relating to its performance.

The voice prompts are a nice touch so you’re aware of updates and progress; if it is low on battery it will return to its base station and tell you it is charging. It is smart enough to pick up where it left off when a clean is interrupted by a recharge.

Things like cables and shoes lying around need to be moved out of the way ahead of a clean-up. I also move my dining room chairs so it has an uninterrupted clean. It is suitable for most hard floor types but does not clean carpets.

The first time I tried a robovac, I wondered if I’d ever need one, but the amount of dust and dirt that gets trapped was quite a revelation — even more so if you have pets, allergies or children. It also reaches difficult places like under the couches or patio furniture, getting deep into spots your broom otherwise may not cover.

As a smart device, you can use the app to control which room it cleans once it is mapped, and to set barriers. It also has the ability to schedule a clean-up, plus you can specify a type of clean from 7 modes — pet mode for a living area, strong mode for kitchen or polish for lounge. The ability to vacuum your home remotely and come to a dust-free home after a holiday is highly underrated.

The Hobot Legee 7 sits somewhere in the middle when it comes to automated robot vacuum cleaners. It goes beyond the basic cleaning and mopping with advanced features and flexibility if you want it to be less noisy. The app can be buggy, and it works on hard floors only, not carpets. If you have allergies, pets or a full house, it’s a no brainer. It retails for R8 250 at most retailers online and in-store.

Published first here: