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Shark AI Ultra Robot Vacuum Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Reviewed Sep 15, 2022 at 10:02 am
Shark AI Ultra Robot Picture
7.1
Bare Floor
6.4
Low-Pile Carpet
6.4
High-Pile Carpet
4.8
Pets
5.8
Stairs
4.6
Cars
4.3
Workshop
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Vacuum Type
Robot
Bagless
Yes
Cordless
Yes
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
Yes
Wet Compatible
No

The Shark AI Ultra Robot AV2501S is a mid-range robot vacuum. It sits close to the top of Shark's lineup of robot vacuums, above cheaper models like the Shark AI Robot and Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty AV911S, as it features both LIDAR mapping and self-emptying capability to reduce hands-on maintenance requirements. Its docking station also features an onboard HEPA filter to reduce the spread of allergens as it transfers debris out of its internal dustbin.

Our Verdict

7.1 Bare Floor

The Shark AV2501S is decent for bare floors. It clears pet hair and small and bulky debris on this surface type without much of a problem. Its self-emptying base station also reduces hands-on maintenance requirements since you won't have to manually empty debris from its base station at the end of every cleaning session. Its LIDAR mapping system results in quicker room mapping than most other Shark robot vacuums, though it can register some benign household objects as hazards to avoid.

Pros
  • Self-emptying capability.
  • Long battery life.
  • Excellent performance on bare floors.
Cons
  • Demanding maintenance requirements.
  • High recurring costs.
  • Terrible stain-clearing performance.
6.4 Low-Pile Carpet

The Shark AV2501S is a passable option for low-pile carpet. It has a hard time dealing with large and fine debris on this surface type, though it clears away an acceptable amount of pet hair. Thankfully, it doesn't have any trouble maneuvering on low-pile carpeting. It also offers superb battery performance, as it can run for up to three hours on a single charge, which is more than enough for cleaning most areas. Build quality is decent for the most part, though the hard matte-finish plastic used in its construction is easily scratched. It also incurs high recurring costs and has somewhat demanding maintenance requirements, though it is pretty easy to access most components that need washing or replacing.

Pros
  • Self-emptying capability.
  • Long battery life.
  • Can run over rug tassels.
Cons
  • Demanding maintenance requirements.
  • High recurring costs.
  • Struggles with solid debris on low-pile carpet.
6.4 High-Pile Carpet

The Shark AV2501S isn't a bad choice for high-pile carpet. It offers decent overall debris pickup performance on this surface type, as it clears a good amount of larger debris and pet hair, though it might need to make an extra pass to fully clear away finer material. Battery life is a strong point, as even when cleaning dense carpeting in its high-power 'MAX' mode, it can run for about 90 minutes, giving it more than enough time to deal with stubborn messes. Unfortunately, you'll need to clean quite a few parts regularly, and recurring costs can add up over time.

Pros
  • Self-emptying capability.
  • Long battery life.
Cons
  • Demanding maintenance requirements.
  • High recurring costs.
4.8 Pets

The Shark AV2501S is a solid option for dealing with pet hair on floors. It easily clears pet hair on bare floors and high-pile carpet, but it has a slightly harder time clearing it away on low-pile carpets. It's also very quiet, which is great if your pet is sensitive to loud noises. Despite being billed as 'self-cleaning', long hair can get wrapped around the vacuum's brushroll. On the upside, it's easy to remove and clean. The vacuum does a good job of sealing in fine particles. Its external base station has a HEPA filter to seal in allergens like pet dander, but it doesn't use disposable dirtbags to store debris, which would make it even easier and more hygienic to empty. This variant lacks a mopping feature to deal with dried-on stains.

Pros
  • Great overall pet hair pickup capability.
  • Quiet operation.
  • Self-emptying station has a HEPA filter.
Cons
  • Demanding maintenance requirements.
  • High recurring costs.
  • Terrible stain-clearing performance.
  • Self-cleaning brushroll is ineffective for resisting hair wraps.
5.8 Stairs

The Shark AV2501S is a robot vacuum and isn't designed for cleaning stairs.

4.6 Cars

The Shark AV2501S is a robot vacuum and isn't designed for cleaning cars.

4.3 Workshop

The Shark AV2501S isn't intended for workshop cleaning.

  • 7.1 Bare Floor
  • 6.4 Low-Pile Carpet
  • 6.4 High-Pile Carpet
  • 4.8 Pets
  • 5.8 Stairs
  • 4.6 Cars
  • 4.3 Workshop
  1. Updated Sep 15, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Sep 12, 2022: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Shark AV2501S is available in one color variant: 'Black', and you can see the label for our test unit here. Another model, referred to as the Shark AV2501AE or Shark AV2511AE, depending on color, comes with a larger-capacity external dirt compartment with enough room for 60 days' worth of debris, compared to the AV2501S' advertised 30-day capacity. Otherwise, the AV2501S and AV2501AE/AV2511AE are mechanically identical and therefore deliver the same level of performance.

If you come across a differently-equipped variant of the Shark AI Ultra Robot Self Empty XL, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Vacuums

The Shark AV2501S is a bit of a step up over most other Shark robot vacuums. Not only can it self-empty, a capability found on some other Shark models like the Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty AV911S, but it's also one of the few products in Shark's robovac lineup to offer LIDAR mapping, which is quicker and more precise than optical sensor-based systems. That said, if those features don't matter all that much to you, the vacuum doesn't offer any significant jump in debris pickup performance compared to cheaper Shark models.

If you're looking for an alternative, take a look at our list of recommendations of the best robot vacuums for hardwood floors, the best robot vacuums for carpet, and the best robot vacuums for pet hair.

Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty

The Shark AI Ultra Robot AV2501S is better than the Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty AV911S, though the two vacuums are similar in some ways. The AV2501S has a LIDAR sensor for faster, more precise room mapping, though it can also register common household objects as obstacles to avoid. Performance on bare surfaces is pretty similar, though the AV2501S has an easier time dealing with pet hair and clears more debris on low and high-pile carpet.

Shark AI Robot

The Shark AI Ultra Robot AV2501S is better than the Shark AI Robot. The AV2501S is self-emptying compatible, does a better job of clearing debris from cracks, performs better on bare floors, has an easier time dealing with pet hair, and has a LIDAR mapping system, which allows for quicker room mapping, even in the dark. Conversely, the AI Robot has fewer parts needing regular cleaning, incurs lower recurring costs, and offers better overall coverage despite its simpler navigation system, as it won't identify everyday objects as hazards to avoid.

Roborock Q5

The Roborock Q5 is better than the Shark AI Ultra Robot AV2501S. The Roborock feels better built, is easier to maintain, uses an external dirtbag with a significantly greater debris capacity, and lasts even longer on a single charge. It does a better job maneuvering itself, has a vastly better companion app, and performs better on bare surfaces. Conversely, the Shark does a better job of sealing in allergens and makes less of a mess when clearing away debris in cracks and crevices.

yeedi vac station

The yeedi vac station is better than the Shark AI Ultra Robot AV2501S for most uses. The yeedi feels better-built, has fewer parts needing regular cleaning, does a better job maneuvering itself, has an easier-to-use companion app, performs better on carpeted floors, and comes with a mopping attachment for dried-on stains, though the latter isn't especially effective. The yeedi's external dirtbag also has a larger overall capacity than the Shark's bagless external dirt compartment. However, the Shark does a better job of sealing in fine allergens and clears more debris on bare surfaces.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
7.0
Design
Build Quality
Vacuum Type
Robot

The Shark AV2501S feels decently well-built. Like most other Shark robot vacuums, its body is made mainly from matte-finish hard plastic, giving it a reasonably upmarket, if nondescript, appearance. It uses the same 'self-cleaning' brushroll design as the cheaper Shark AI Robot, with pronounced vanes meant to reduce hair buildup over time. The vacuum itself doesn't flex or creak to a significant degree when picked up, though the hard plastic covering the top of its LIDAR sensor scratches very easily.

Out-of-the-box assembly is quite simple, you only need to snap the two side brushes into place and plug in its docking station.

4.0
Design
User Maintenance

The Shark AI Ultra Robot Self Empty XL has many parts that need periodic cleaning, but thankfully they're easy to access.

  • Dustbin: You can remove this part by pressing its release button. The vacuum's self-emptying capability ensures that you won't have to empty it yourself very often, which is good, as the dustbin itself is quite small and opens from the top, allowing debris to spill out pretty easily.
  • Pre-motor filter: The pre-motor filter is located inside the dirt compartment and can be pulled out by its release tabs. You can tap this part over your garbage to dislodge dirt and dust after each use, though you can't use water to clean it, which is a bit of a hassle if it gets very dirty. The manufacturer recommends clearing away any stuck-on debris periodically to ensure peak performance, though no specific time frame is given.
  • Brushroll: You need to remove the brushroll guard underneath the vacuum to access this part, which isn't too hard. While it's billed as 'self-cleaning', long hair can still get tangled around the brushroll, forcing you to pull it away with your bare hands or cut it free with a pair of scissors. Hair can also get caught around the brushroll bearings, which aren't as easy to clean.
  • Side brushes: The side brushes can be pulled out of their sockets. You should check them weekly and clean them as needed by removing hair or debris. You can also wipe them with a damp cloth.
  • Drive wheels: The drive wheels and their housing need periodic cleaning, as hair can get wrapped around them pretty easily. In light quantities, this won't have too severe an impact on performance, but you should still get into the habit of cleaning the wheels periodically.
  • Front wheel: You can pull the front wheel from its housing, but this can be hard, and you might want to use a screwdriver for a bit of added leverage. You should clean it periodically and take it out of its housing to clear it of debris.
  • Sensors and charging pads: The sensors and charging pads are on both the robot and its charging station. You should clean them regularly by dusting off the sensors and pads with a dry cloth.
  • Self-Emptying Dustbin: You can remove the dustbin in the vacuum's charging dock by pressing the button on top of the dock. A small observation window gives you an idea of how full it is. While Shark advertises this dustbin as having sufficient room for 30 days worth of normal debris pickup, it's smaller in practice; it's designed so that solid debris closer to the top of the dustbin would fall back out again.
  • Self-Emptying Dustbin Filters: The self-emptying station has two filters. The foam pre-motor filter can be found under the top cover of the docking station, while the post-motor HEPA filter is located on the right side of the dock. The pre-motor filter should be rinsed with water once a month, while the HEPA filter needs rinsing once a year. Make sure to avoid using soap when cleaning either filter.

Any part you can rinse under water should be left to dry for at least 24 hours before reinstallment.

4.0
Design
Recurring Cost
Bag Part Number No bag
Filter Part Number XPRFRV2500 + XBPFRV2500
HEPA Filter Part Number XPSFRV2500

The Shark AV2501S incurs high recurring costs.

  • Pre-motor filter: There isn't a specified replacement time for this filter, as it's washable. That said, you can buy a replacement from Shark's website.
  • Brushroll: You should replace the brushroll every six to 12 months, depending on your usage.
  • Side brushes: You should replace the side brushes if they're bent or damaged.
  • Self-Emptying Dustbin Filters: No replacement time is given for either the pre-motor or post-motor HEPA base station filters. Still, you can buy a replacement pre-motor filter here and a replacement HEPA filter here. It's worth mentioning that the manual for the Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty AV911S, which has a similarly-designed dustbin post-motor HEPA filter, advises replacing this filter after three years of use.

8.6
Design
Storing
Height
12.20" (31.0 cm)
Width
13.39" (34.0 cm)
Depth
18.11" (46.0 cm)
Cord Storing
Not Needed
On-Board Tool Storage
Not needed
Vacuum Rack/Station
Yes

The Shark AI Ultra Robot Self Empty XL is very easy to store. The vacuum's docking station does take up a fair bit of extra space compared to a conventional low-profile docking station. However, it's still pretty compact overall, and you can easily squeeze it into a nook between furniture.

7.1
Design
Dirt Compartment
Bagless
Yes
Volume
0.20 gal (0.76 L)
Full Indicator
No
Bag Included
No Bag Needed

The combined capacity of the Shark AV2501S's internal and external dustbins is fairly big, though still slightly less than that of the Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty AV911S. The external dust bin has a clear plastic window that gives you a rough estimate of how full it is. While the manufacturer claims the docking station has sufficient capacity for 30 days worth of cleaning sessions, its actual capacity is less. As it fills up, all but the lightest of debris can fall back out again.

Design
In The Box

  • Shark AV2501S
    • Shark AI Ultra Robot Self Empty XL vacuum body
    • Internal dust bin
    • Pre-motor filter
    • 2x Side brushes
    • Brushroll
    • Brushroll door
    • Owner's guide
  • Base Station
    • Self Empty Station/Charging station
    • Base station dust bin
    • Base station dust bin pre-motor filter
    • Base station dust bin post-motor HEPA filter and cover

10
Design
Range
Cordless
Yes
Cord Length
N/A
Hose Length
N/A
Minimum Wand Length
N/A
Maximum Wand Length
N/A
Total Range
N/A

The Shark AV2501S' range is limited only by its remaining battery life. That said, it can't climb or descend stairs.

8.1
Design
Portability
Total Weight
6.86 lbs (3.11 kg)
Weight In Hand
0.00 lbs (0.00 kg)
Carrying handle
No

The Shark AV2501S doesn't weigh very much. It's considerably lighter than most other vacuums with LIDAR sensors, like the Neato D8.

9.2
Design
Battery
Minimum Battery Life
92 min
Maximum Battery Life
172 min
Recharge Time
280 min
Recharge Dock
Yes
Battery Life Indicator
Yes
Removable Batteries
Yes

The Shark AV2501S has fantastic battery performance. On its high-suction 'Max' setting, it provides roughly 90 minutes of continuous runtime, which is more than enough even for cleaning stubborn messes. Using it in its more energy-efficient 'Eco' suction power setting extends its runtime to almost three hours. However, it's worth noting that whenever you turn the vacuum on, it defaults to its 'Normal' suction power setting, and you have to choose either the 'Eco' or 'Max' manually at the start of every cleaning session, which is somewhat annoying. This vacuum also takes approximately four hours to fully recharge, which is fairly long.

Design
Quality Of Life Features
Rotating Head
No
Power Adjustment
Yes
Self-Propelled
Yes
Headlights
No
Easy On/Off
Yes
Head Surface Type Adjustment
None

The Shark AV2501S has a few quality-of-life features. It has three power settings: its energy-saving 'Eco' mode, its default 'Normal' mode, and its high-power 'Max' mode. If you want to adjust these settings, you have to set them in the app for each job you run. There's also an on/off switch for its self-emptying base station.

Design
Tools And Brushes
Brushroll
Yes
Brushroll On/Off
No
Removable Brushroll
Yes
Turbo Brush
No
Crevice Tool
No
Upholstery Tool
No
Soft Bristle Brush
No
Hard Bristle Brush
No
Extension Wand
No
Ceiling Fan Tool
No
Pet Grooming Tool
No

The Shark AI Ultra Robot Self Empty XL has two side brushes that help to direct debris out of the vacuum's periphery and into the path of its main brushroll.

Design
Alternative Configuration
Blower Mode
No
Performance
8.5
Performance
Bare Floor Performance (Hardwood, Laminate, Tiles)
Setting Used "Normal"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 86%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 86%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 86%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) N/A
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 100%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 100%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 100%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) N/A
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The Shark AV2501S does an excellent job cleaning bare floors. It clears small debris like rice without any issue and most bulkier debris like cereal, though it might need to execute a second pass to clear away everything.

Note: All testing was completed when the dirt compartment was empty, with the data for the 0.25L and 0.75L tests being copied from the 0L test. Since this vacuum automatically empties its internal dirt compartment when docked after completing its job, it doesn't lose suction performance.

5.5
Performance
Low-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used "Normal"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 49%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 49%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 49%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) N/A
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 32%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 32%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 32%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) N/A
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The Shark AV2501S has middling performance on low-pile carpet. It has a hard time dealing with both fine material like baking soda and larger debris like sand.

Note: All testing was completed when the dirt compartment was empty, with the data for the 0.25L and 0.75L tests being copied from the 0L test. Since this vacuum automatically empties its internal dirt compartment when docked after completing its job, it doesn't lose suction performance.

7.4
Performance
High-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used "Normal"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 66%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 66%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 66%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) N/A
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 48%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 48%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 48%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) N/A
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The Shark AV2501S performs decently on high-pile carpet. It does a good job of dealing with large debris like sand and clears away a fair amount of finer debris like baking soda, though it'll probably need to make an extra pass to collect everything.

Note: All testing was completed when the dirt compartment was empty, with the data for the 0.25L, 0.75L, and 1.25L tests being copied from the 0L test. Since this vacuum automatically empties its internal dirt compartment when docked after completing its job, it doesn't lose suction performance.

8.5
Performance
Pet Hair Floor Performance
Bare Floor
98%
Low-Pile Carpet
77%
High-Pile Carpet
77%

The Shark AV2501S does an excellent job of handling pet hair. It easily clears this kind of debris on bare floors, but can leave a few strands behind when vacuuming carpets.

0
Performance
Suction
Maximum Suction
0.0 inHโ‚‚O (0.01 kPa)
Setting Used For Maximum "Max"(App)
Normal Suction
0.0 inHโ‚‚O (0.00 kPa)
Setting Used For Normal "Normal" (App)
Hose Diameter
N/A

The Shark AV2501S' real-world suction performance isn't very strong, especially compared to most conventional manually-operated vacuums. Its suction inlet is positioned too high above the contact surface to generate a tight seal on bare surfaces.

9.5
Performance
Noise
Bare Floor
59.8 dBA
Low-Pile Carpet
59.0 dBA

The Shark AV2501S is remarkably quiet. You'll hear nearby conversations even with the vacuum running in its 'Max' mode.

7.0
Performance
Maneuverability

The Shark AV2501S has decent overall maneuverability. While it cleans in an organized pattern, its room coverage isn't actually any better than cheaper, non-LIDAR Shark models like the Shark AI Robot. It may interpret some common household items, like thicker carpets or power cords, as objects to avoid, so it's best to ensure that its cleaning area is free of any obstacles before letting it run. Unlike high-end robot vacuums like the Roborock S7 MaxV, it doesn't have a camera or an actual AI system that would allow it to see and identify the sort of obstacles that fall beneath the view of its LIDAR sensor. Its LIDAR sensor is also somewhat tall, and the vacuum consequently can't clean under some low-lying couches and TV stands. Still, it can climb over tasseled rugs without getting stuck too frequently, which is rare among other robot vacuums.

0
Performance
Pet Hair Furniture Performance
Sofa Pickup Post Test
Performance
Air Quality
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
Yes

The Shark AI Ultra Robot Self Empty XL has good air filtration performance, despite lacking an onboard HEPA filter. Better still, its base station has an allergen-trapping post-motor filter that the manufacturer advertises as able to capture 99.97% of particles down to 0.3 microns in size.

5.0
Performance
Cracks
Wood Cracks Post Test

Due to its low suction force, the Shark AV2501S does a poor job sucking up debris from cracks and crevices compared to most manually-operated vacuums. Still, it outperforms alternatives like the Shark IQ Robot RV1001 in this regard, which tend to throw around lightweight debris from cracks.

1.0
Performance
Stains
Stain Pickup Post Test

The Shark AV2501S has terrible stain-clearing performance. This variant doesn't have any sort of mopping capability that would allow it to scrub away dried-on stains.

0
Performance
Water
Wet Compatible
No
Water Pickup Post Test
Automation
9.1
Automation
Physical Automation
Automatic Recharging
Yes
Automatic Bag Emptying
Yes
Pathing Algorithm
Smart
Physical Boundary Markers
No
Scheduled Start Buttons
No
Cycle Control Buttons
Onboard Only
Navigation Control Buttons
Return to Base Only

The Shark AI Ultra Robot Self Empty XL has an excellent array of physical automation capabilities. Its headlining feature is its self-emptying capability, which does reduce hands-on maintenance requirements. Still, its overall feature set is very limited when you aren't connected to the internet and using its companion app. The 'Clean' button has it start a cleaning session while the 'Dock' button simply sends it back to its base station.

6.0
Automation
Companion App Automation
App Name
SharkClean
iOS Availability
Yes
Android Availability
Yes
Software Boundary Markers (No Go Zones)
Yes
App Scheduled Start
Yes
App Cycle Control
Yes
Navigation Control within App
No

The SharkClean app is mediocre. It's slow and rather buggy, with the app occasionally reporting incorrect status information. You need a 2.4 GHz network to connect to the vacuum. The app also allows you to check the battery life, set different cleaning modes, or schedule cleaning times, though not necessarily for specific rooms. You can also check the cleaning session history and create no-go zones to prevent it from entering certain areas or maneuvering around delicate objects.

Discussions