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Friday, December 05, 2008

Advancements in Floor Cleaning Robots

I have been a an observer in a number of enterprise applications of semi-autonomous robotics. In the early 80s we implemented a mail delivery robot to replace a person with a cart during working hours. The robot cart moved over a predefined chemical stripe on the floor, paused at predefined locations and could avoid people and other obstructions. The difficulty was that the robot could not use the elevators and needed to be moved by a person from floor to floor, minimizing cost savings. They were eventually removed.

Now Fuji Heavy Industries and Sumitomo have introduced a floor cleaning robot that can utilize the elevators. The elevators also need to be modified. A step forward. This shows again that robotics are rarely used in enterprise office environments that are already largely standardized. Even after twenty years plus of development. The problem in a home environment, with fewer standards, is even harder, except for the scale of operation.

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