Trying to combine the dream of a cloud-free home automation system using Home Assistant with a cloud-free robot vacuum cleaner is almost impossible. Every robot vacuum cleaner I have heard off needs an account with some service, and it will occasionally upload full maps of your home to a remote server. I say it's almost impossible because while there are no open-source robot vacuum cleaners, there is a cloud replacement named Valetudo.
Valetudo isn't an alternative firmware for robot vacuum cleaners, but it allows your robot to connect to Home Assistant, without having to detour through a vendor cloud. No data ever has to leave your network.
As you might have guessed, robot vacuum cleaner vendors aren't really keen on people fiddling with their devices. But if you bought it, it's yours, and you can modify it in whatever way you want. If you want to use Valetudo that should be up to you, and in fact it is, if you go for the right model. Currently, only two robot vacuum cleaners, both from Dreametech, who were up until recently called just Dreame, get a full recommendation from the developers.
Rooting Dreametech robot vacuum cleaners
It is currently possible to “easily” root the Dreametech L10 Pro, Z10 Pro, F9, D9, and D9 Pro. Additionally, rooting is possible for the Xiaomi Mi Vacuum Robot 1C and 1T, which are made by Dreametech, using the same method.
When I say it's easy to root these robot vacuum cleaners, you will need more in-depth knowledge than just being able to use a browser or install an app. But rooting these robot vacuum cleaners, to get Valetudo working, is doable. It does require access to a USB to TTL Serial UART Adapter, such as the PL2303 or CP2102 and you will need to follow the instructions to a T.
The cheaper Dreametech models, the D9 and D9 Pro, both suffer from low memory, which can be problematic when attempting to store large floor maps. But if you don't foresee that being an issue in your smart home, they are both supported by the developers. The Dreametech F9 isn't supported to the same extent and is difficult to buy. With that in mind, I would definitely recommend the D9/D9 Pro ahead of it.
Valetudo support for the Xaiomi Mi Vacuum Robot 1C is said to be only okay and due to its outdated software stack, it is no longer recommended. The 1T fares slightly better, but once again, the develops support is only their best effort.
If you are looking for the best Valetudo and cloud-free robot vacuum cleaner experience, there are only two realistic options: the Dreametech L10 Pro and Z10 Pro.
What makes the Dreametech L10 Pro and Z10 Pro special
The Dreametech L10 Pro and Z10 Pro both feature the powerful Allwinner MR813 SoC with four ARM Cortex A53 cores, along with 512 MB of RAM and 512 MB of NAND flash storage. They have a LiDAR sensor for navigation, a front-facing camera for object detection, and a LineLaser front sensor to stop it from bumping in to objects. Using this combination of sensors, the robot vacuum cleaners can plan eight meters ahead, and you are spared from having to remove any objects from the ground before it gets going.
The powerful Dreametech L10 Pro
The Dreametech L10 Pro has a suction power of up to 4000 Pa, which is more than most of the competition can manage. It has comb teeth in the brush module to untangle hair while it is cleaning up. It has a 680 ml dust container and a 265 ml water tank for mopping. A 5,200 mAh battery makes sure it will get most, if not all, of the work done in one single go.
Furthermore, the Dreametech L10 Pro and Z10 Pro share the ability to automatically detect carpets and increase the suction when on one. Unfortunately, the mop can't be retracted, as is the case with the Roborock S7, so it will have to be manually attached, every time you want it to mop.
The luxurious Dreametech Z10 Pro
The Dreametech Z10 Pro is a more luxurious version of the L10 Pro. Spec wise, there isn't much to differentiate the two, though the Z10 Pro does have a smaller dust compartment. Don't fret, as the hardware to enable the automatic emptying takes up that space. The self-emtying dock has a 3.8 litre dust bag, which requires replacing roughly every two months. If low maintance of your robotic helpers is what you are after, this robot vacuum cleaner is for you.
What Valetudo offers to Home Assistant users
As mentioned in the introduction, Valetudo does not replace the firmware on your robot vacuum cleaner. As such, it doesn't add any features. But as the Dreametech L10 Pro and Z10 Pro are both comparatively fully featured, you will still be able to clean specific rooms, set virtual walls, and much more.
A web interface provides control over the robot vacuum cleaner, making it possible to interact with the device using any browser. Thanks to MQTT auto-discovery, it will automatically be picked up by Home Assistant. A highly customizable custom card for the Lovelace dashboard gives you full manual control without having to open up the Valetudo interface.