A connected spot cleaning robot for unexpected messes on any floor type


As part of my internship at iRobot over the summer of 2017, I worked on an independent project in addition to my daily support for the ID/UX team.  

I was asked to design a new robot that would fit iRobot's brand identity, to empower people to do more. I sketched out a number of concepts before choosing a focus, conducted internal research on consumer needs, studied mechanisms, met with engineering advisors to ensure a feasible design, visualized an updated app UX for iRobot, and created a model of the final product, a spot cleaning robot named Ella. 

Opening image 4.png


After a number of concept explorations, I built off of the idea of a pet spot cleaner and decided to design a general spot cleaner for unexpected messes on all floor types in the home. 



  • Participant demographics: most live in apartments or multi-story homes, even age distribution anywhere from 18-50+, avg. 2-4 household members, 50% have pets, 70% don't have kids under 10 but those who do have avg. 1-2 kids
  • Home & cleaning information: avg. homes have majority wood floors with half as much carpet and some tile, most people share cleaning responsibilities, most common spills/stains include colored drinks/food and dirt/mud/grass, most accidents occur on wood floor with tile, carpet, and countertops as close seconds
  • Spot cleaning: most people clean up accidents right away (only about half use methods specific for the type of spill), 95% care if it leaves a stain but people only rate their confidence of cleaning it correctly at 3.6/10 

Key Takeaways

  • Spills occur on all types of surfaces, particularly wood, carpet, and tile. 
  • People care if accidents leave stains, but they are not very confident in their ability to treat them correctly. 
  • A robot would be trusted to take care of spills (and appreciated) if the experience was less of a hassle than just cleaning by hand and didn't create a bigger mess. 

Pros: lift up stains from deep down rather than just treating surface, powerful, effective clean
Cons: bulky machine, noisy, requires physical labor

Watch this video for a few seconds to see how powerful a combination of scrubbing and suction can be.  

Early Design

Through sketching, I began to define the robot's components, functions, look, and user experience. 

Meetings with Advisors

Before going too far, I met with two engineers to ensure my idea was feasible and to understand the technical side to inform my design.

Desktop Prototyping 


I then made a foam core model to figure out general sizing of the robot body and tanks, touchpoint interactions, and the solution dispensing mechanism. 

Design Development 

Now that I understood the engineering behind my design, I worked on refining the details before moving into CAD.

The name Ella came from playing around with the word spill and the theme of secret agent. I wanted the robot's name to sound a little delicate while its performance is unexpectedly powerful. 


Early Stages

Technical Drawing


FINAL Solutions with app.png

A big thank you to everybody who helped me throughout this project!