Valetudo stores house maps on your robot’s internal storage, not on a remote server. The interface remains consistent across all supported vacuum models, so transitioning to a new robot doesn’t require relearning. There’s no obligation to install robot updates, no exposure to marketing or push notifications, and your personal information remains secure.
Valetudo Frees a Robot Vacuum From the Cloud
You aren’t bound by lengthy and unintelligible corporate terms of service. It doesn’t rely on a smartphone app connected to a distant server, resulting in quicker command response. Beyond what it doesn’t enforce, Valetudo offers numerous extra features, including custom Home Assistant integration, Wi-Fi signal mapping, the option to transform your house into a Minecraft map, and various voice packs (like the GLaDOS pack, which I’m trying to modify to sound like Roger from American Dad).
iRobot and Roomba are nearly synonymous with robot vacuums, but they aren’t the best choices for hacking due to their limited processing power, making them unsuitable for running Valetudo. The most popular models for Valetudo installation come from Roborock and Dreame.
In this project, I worked with a Dreame L10S Ultra, a robot recently added to the list of compatible models. The process of modifying the robot varies depending on the model and the manufacturer. Some older robots can be rooted over the air (OTA), but the easiest way to hack the Dreame involves specific hardware and direct access to the robot. This Fastboot method leverages an exploit in the Allwinner LiveSuit tool for Linux and modified LiveSuit images. Giese explained, “Fastboot was my solution to prevent people from bricking their device. The alternative would have been real LiveSuit images, which pose significant risks.
To hack the robot, I obtained a custom $5 hardware piece called the Dreame Breakout PCB from the Valetudo Telegram group, which serves as a hub for support related to the process. Technically, this adapter isn’t mandatory for hacking this model, but it simplifies the hacking process and can be conveniently shared with hacking communities and like-minded friends. Plus, I always enjoy a chance to solder a doohicky I found on GitHub.
According to Giese, “[Valetudo] involves rooting, but with the builder, it’s not particularly difficult to use, even for non-Linux users. We have a thriving community with numerous experienced individuals. You’ll find familiar faces in Telegram readily assisting others.
Rooting the Robot: A Linux Laptop, Fastboot Commands, and Custom Firmware
The next step involved gaining root access to hack the robot. The recommended approach strongly suggests using a laptop with Linux installed, such as Debian. (A Raspberry Pi is not suitable in this case as fastboot requires x86 binaries, which the Pi cannot execute.) Since I didn’t have a Linux laptop readily available, I reached out to a close friend from my local hacking space for assistance.
This was also convenient because, although I’m proficient with intermediate Linux commands, this particular method demands the rapid input of commands within a narrow 160-second timeframe to avoid the risk of bricking the device, Honestly, he simply types faster than I do.
We installed the necessary dependencies and software, used a couple of small flathead screwdrivers to open the top, took the breakout PCB I had soldered, and followed the instructions to plug it into the 16-pin Dreame Debug connector. Afterward, we connected the laptop via USB and utilized the software to extract the config value of the device and input it into Dustbuilder.
Once the website generated and sent us the custom firmware images and text files, we successfully rooted and flashed the device using a series of fastboot commands. “Some aspects of the rooting process are black boxes… I don’t necessarily like that, but I didn’t find a better solution,” Giese later explained. Finally, we installed Valetudo using the Valetudo-Helper-HTTPbridge and backed up the calibration and identity data of the robot. These were the challenging parts; the rest is relatively straightforward.