A Clean Machine Future


Advances in technology have had a significant impact on many facets of our daily lives. Development in areas such as mobile phones and personal computers has been rapid. Until now, however, the cleaning industry has not kept pace with the gains made in other industries.

With the advancement of artificial intelligence in robotic floor cleaners – that vacuum, scrub and sweep floors – it now seems that the age of modern technology has arrived in the cleaning industry. Since the development of the electric vacuum cleaner and the electric polisher in the early 1900s, the cleaning industry has generally seen small advancements in machinery. We have seen a constant evolution of machinery development, re-engineering, and design improvement. However, there have been no quantum leaps in technology since the electric motor.

For the most part, the general cleaning industry still uses minimal mechanization. Although some industry sectors have adopted automated cleaning processes, manual processes remain the most popular. Today’s cleaner’s cupboard is virtually unchanged – consisting of a mop, bucket, and vacuum cleaner. Not a lot has changed in a century – most of us still slosh a mop over the floor and push a vacuum cleaner back and forth. The next step in the evolution of cleaning machines is about to occur this decade – with the new generation of robotic floor cleaners.

Since the 1970s, many attempts have been made to create a robotic floor cleaner – most without success. To date, efforts have focused on adapting the auto scrubber into a robotic auto scrubber. The new crops of larger robots – like Hefter, Karcher, Servus Robots, and Robert – have been developed for larger, open areas such as sports complexes, supermarkets, and warehouses. Most robots carry out daily cleaning of floors, and as a result increase the productivity of the cleaning staff, freeing them for more complex tasks. There are a number of other advantages associated with having a robot perform repetitive cleaning duties.

There is a reduction in risk associated with manual cleaning, computer control improves the quality of cleaning performed, and they are safe to operate around people. They can clean continuously and when the cleaning task is complete they either shut down or return to base for recharging. The battery life for most robotic auto scrubbers provides a running time of about two hours. Cleaning robots have been designed for simplicity of operation with easy control systems. They require no programming by the operator.

By the press of a button, they commence cleaning the area – self-navigating, with minimal training and supervision. The technology industry seems to have turned the corner with the exciting next generation of compact robots – like FloorBotics. This intelligent vacuum is designed for carpets and hard floors. It can be used in medium to small areas, such as corridors, office foyers, shops, offices, or bedrooms. This robot is designed for two major purposes – cleaning in low traffic areas or to be activated to operate alone in an empty area.

The night cleaner in a multi-story building would have a trolley system holding multiple robots – allowing easy delivery. On arrival at each floor, the robot would begin its cleaning rounds while others are being delivered. you have developed a compact robot vacuum for the domestic markets – so too have Electrolux and Karcher – aimed at the home consumer.FloorBotics inventor Duncan Ashworth explains why he developed a robot and his vision for the industry; “One day while vacuuming the house, I knew there had to be a better way.

So I developed a robot to reduce the repetition and labor intensity of this chore. I’ve designed a robot which is very simple and easy to operate.” Mr. Ashworth said, “I’m surprised that so many cleaning staff do not use cleaning machines to increase the productivity and quality of their work. Robots will be able to assist cleaners in the hard work and repetition of floor cleaning – reducing physical exertion.” “We are developing a whole family of cleaning machine robots that wash, scrub, sweep and clean all types of floor surfaces”

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