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Shark Detect Pro Self-Empty Robot Vacuum review: Detects dirt, avoids obstacles, and won’t get stuck

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composite of shark robot vacuum on orange backgroundThe Shark Detect Pro Self Empty robot vacuum is Shark’s most advanced robot vacuum yet, and promises to not get stuck… on dirt, ledges, or obstacles.

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Today, we have more choices — and more technology — than ever before when it comes to the best robot vacuums. The Shark Detect Pro Self-Empty Robot vacuum is one of the brand’s latest entrants with a competitive price point of $599 while hosting all of the bells and whistles. 

Three levels of patented software and Lidar navigation promise that this vacuum won’t get stuck and can avoid obstacles. It was an upgrade from my previous robot vacuum, the Shark EZ Robot Vacuum, which was constantly getting stuck and pulling up small toys, requiring my intervention. I wanted a new model that could avoid things it shouldn’t vacuum up and was better suited for edge cleaning. The Detect Pro Self Empty Robot can do that and more, it seeks out dirt, changes between flooring types, and finds its own dock, even without WiFi. This mac-daddy of vacuum robots will be loved by those with a big home or who are fed up with a robot that gets stuck on cords, has trouble navigating around furniture, or requires extra monitoring. The auto-empty base is a convenient touch, too, that truly helps automate my floor cleaning routine.


The Shark Detect Pro robot vacuumSet up is minimal, and the overall footprint is small, though you will want to connect to the Shark app to access features like scheduling, mapping, and boundary settings.

Bethaney Phillips/Business Insider

The Shark Detect Pro came with minimal setup requirements. After finding an open space and plugging it in, I installed the side brush with a single click. Next, I installed the HEPA odor filter into the vacuum’s base, a nice improvement from my previous model, which smells heavily of the dog when it empties into the bin.) Then, I allowed the vacuum to charge before setting it loose. The app was an easy setup, thanks to the QR code on the base. However, I wanted to see how it performed on its own. Simply download, add the vacuum, and follow the step-by-step instructions.

Because I already had a Shark logged into their app system, there was zero setup here. However, the Shark app is intuitive, easy to use, and quickly gets a floor plan of your house. You can also create no-go zones (that you can turn on/off), which is ideal for keeping your vacuum on the move. For instance, I closed off our mudroom, which is full of, well, junk. I often close my kids’ rooms before they’re cleaned, too. The app can allow you to start/stop the vacuum while away from home, too, in case you forgot to start it or are having last-minute company. 

Newcomers will find an easy learning curve simply by following the steps the app prompts them to follow.

Our review of the Shark vacuum

Red lights flash on the Shark Detect Pro to avoid large objects or hitting walls, etc.The Shark Detect Pro easily traverses carpet, and uses a combination of scanning lasers and 3D to navigate.

Bethaney Phillips

Once the vacuum was charged, I hit “clean” and watched it roll. Surprisingly, yet not surprisingly, based on all of the new and patented tech, the vacuum was much more controlled than its predecessors. With two scanning lasers and 3D mapping plotting out each move, the Detect Pro seemingly knew where every wall, ledge, or large piece of crumb was while still inches away. This is different from other brands that incorporate cameras into their technology, while LIDAR provides privacy. It turned on a dime, avoiding walls and edges alike, and just like it promised, it didn’t get stuck. I left out some Nerf darts and LEGOs on purpose – what our old model commonly choked on – and the Detect Pro simply avoided them. Amazing. 

The bottom of the Shark Detect Pro with a focus on the wheels.The vacuum’s wheels have a big tread and are able to rise/sink back into the model to avoid getting stuck. These features are key in its never-stuck capabilities.

Bethaney Phillips

With a combo of DirtDetect Technology, FloorDetect™ Technology, EdgeDetect Technology, NeverStuck Technology™ it’s safe to say this vacuum has a lot going on. In layman’s terms: it finds the dirt, it knows and adjusts to the type of flooring it’s on at the time, it senses and avoids edges, and it avoids large objects or flooring that could keep it from getting stuck. They covered a lot of bases with these new capabilities, that’s for sure. It was especially telling to do a side-by-side with an older Shark model, in which the Detect Pro clearly lived up to its new capabilities’ hype.

A screenshot of the Shark app.The Shark app creates a floorplan of your home that allows you to set boundaries, clean by room, schedule cleaning and review its cleaning paths.

Bethaney Phillips

App: The Detect Pro’s app connects to the same Shark App that it uses for all of its vacuums. No complaints here, but it’s nothing extraordinary. You can schedule cleaning, block off areas of the house, etc. After cleaning, you can review to see what spaces were covered in the house. 

Ease of Use: Because I was already familiar with setting up a Shark Robot Vacuum, this thing was a breeze. However, it did offer less setup than previous models. Aside from the Odor Neutralizer puck filter, which simply screwed into the dust bin, the only set up was a snap-on brush. Even the dust bin was foolproof, needing to be plugged in. Once ready, the vacuum essentially runs itself. There is no hunting it down with errors or having to fish out rubber bands or pencil pieces, it just cleans. It will also self-empty and keep running (on new areas) until you tell it not to. Truly self-automated, without having to hunt it down stuck or dead somewhere in your home.

Shark detect pro cleans flour on hardwood floor.The Shark Detect Pro in Dirt Detect mode (purple/blue light vs. green) to pick up flour. It was able to pick up most of the mess, aside from the residue it left from its own wheels/brush.

Bethaney Phillips

Cleaning Performance: Considering I regularly run my vacuum, I was surprised at how much dirt it picked up and how frequently it emptied. In theory, the Detect Pro can tell where the dirt is hiding, so perhaps this was due to its tech that magnifies the mess. In any case, it picked up loads of dust, dirt, and pet hair. Unlike my other robot, though, it didn’t choke on said pet hair. I would regularly have to disassemble to pull out the clogs. While the Detect Pro grabbed and emptied piles of pet hair while I was none-the-wiser. I even placed it on the dog bed to see what it could do, no spurting and no, it didn’t get stuck, either. 

I’ve been running the Shark Detect Pro Robot Vacuum at least once a day and it has cut down on dirt and pet hair alike. I no longer see stray dust bunnies or fur balls hidden behind the furniture. I’ve also gained back time as it runs on its own, and I don’t have to track down and rescue the vacuum just so it can continue working. 

My house has both carpet and hardwood, as well as rugs. The vacuum lifts itself by its wheels to adjust for each surface. Suction also automatically adjusts on floor types, changing frequency when going from one to the other. It picked up equally well on both surfaces. However, it struggled on a shag carpet rug, spitting out Cheerios to avoid clogging. When finding a mess, the DirtDetect kicked into gear, changing tones, and the light on the vacuum went from green to purple/blue. The vacuum then hovered in the area, grabbing as much dirt as possible before switching back to green mode and onto a new area.

The Shark Detect Pro's odor neutralizing puck.The Shark Detect odor neutralizer technology snaps into the auto-empty base.

Bethaney Phillips

Dust bin: The sizable auto-empty dust bin built into the dock can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt, which is 15 to 30 days longer than Shark’s previous models, though that period also depends on how often you clean and how dirty your floors are. When it does get full, emptying is user-friendly. The bin is easily released from the tower to dump into the trash and the bagless design is convenient for me, too, to not have to worry about replacement bags. The tower also provides another level of filtration and has a washable filter. The replaceable odor neutralizer also helps keep odors to a minimum, if they exist at all. I have yet to smell its emptying, while my previous robot vacuum gave off a distinct dog odor. 

However, the vacuum does sound like a rocket taking off as it empties into the bin; this is just part of the deal. In order to get dirt and debris into the bin, against gravity, it’s going to take a lot of power. The transaction is short-lived, so while loud, it’s not a constant in the background.

Cons to consider

The Shark Detect Pro is on the pricier side, so it is an investment for anyone wanting to purchase it. It also has a higher profile, so it doesn’t fit under all of our furniture, though this seems to be common for most robot vacuums. 

After two weeks, our odor neutralizer cartridge is still going strong; however, that will be an additional purchase that will need to be replaced. It’s $14.99 for a two-pack online, though shipping is free. There is no set timeline for how long they last, though I’m guessing mine will wear out more quickly due to our pets. You can also adjust the intensity of the scent.

What are your alternatives?

Shark offers several robot vacuum options in addition to the Detect Pro, which is presently Shark’s newest and most advanced design. For instance, the Shark Matrix Self-Empty Robot Vacuum uses a grid-like “matrix” cleaning formation for precision coverage; it retails for $100 less, does not have HEPA filtration, and holds 45 days of dirt. It’s also available in a 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum and Mop that our deputy editor reviewed,  which offers a 60-day dirt capacity in the base, HEPA filtration, and an interchangeable mopping attachment. At a similar price point to the Matrix, the Shark AI Ultra Self-Empty Robot Vacuum has similar specs to the Matrix, but a larger dust-bin with HEPA filtration.

Previously, I reviewed the Shark EZ Robot Vacuum cleaner to clean my house. The more entry-level model uses a row by row cleaning method. It worked great on everyday dirt but frequently got stuck on the floor or while attempting to empty dirt and hair.

The bottom line

Detect Pro robot vacuum picks up a cereal spill on a wood floor and a shag rugThe Cheerios provided an excellent example of the vacuum’s never-clog mentality; after it picked up about half of the mess, it would shoot them back out to avoid clogging the internal dust bin, since the spill was larger than what the dust-bin could handle. It did not have this problem with smaller debris.

Bethaney Phillips

The Shark Detect Pro is a huge upgrade to previous Shark robot models. It gave me the gift of time by not getting stuck or picking up large objects that would cause other models to jam, thanks to new tech like DirtDetect Technology, FloorDetect™ Technology, EdgeDetect Technology, NeverStuck Technology™. Other upgrades make it easier on the nose, too, like odor-neutralizing filters for the self-empty base with a 60-day capacity and washable HEPA filters.

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