A New York-based startup has developed a robot designed to do one of the less enviable tasks humans do, like cleaning public toilets. Startup Somatic recently showcased its commercial bathroom cleaning robot at the TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics & AI event at UC Berkeley. Company CEO Michael Levy describes the machine as a “mini-fridge with a robotic arm attached to the front.”
Bathroom cleaning robot
Levy, who co-founded the company with CTO Eugene Zasoba, said he got the idea to build a robot to clean the toilet after spending his early years doing the chore himself. He added that the robots are ideal for cleaning toilets as everything is bolted to the floor and nothing moves, meaning the robot only needs to be trained once and can then clean the toilets. toilet all alone.
How does the robot learn?
The robot is trained using a virtual reality (VR) simulation of the toilet to show the robot what to do, such as where to spray chemicals and clean and where to vacuum and blow dry, etc. The Somatic team jokingly refers to this activity. as “the worst video game of all time”. The robot then uses built-in sensors such as lidar to move around the actual bathroom while following instructions taken from the VR model.
The robot will clean a bathroom first, then recharge and refill chemicals as needed. The machine is capable of performing about eight hours of cleaning per day and can also open doors and take the elevator to move around buildings.
Cost effective option for human cleaners
These bathroom cleaning robots can be used in public places like airports, casinos, offices, shopping malls and other places with large commercial toilets. The robot can be rented for around $ 1,000 per month after a trial phase, which translates to around $ 4 per hour if used for an eight-hour shift.
In comparison, a human employee can cost anywhere from $ 4,000 to $ 10,000 per month, depending on their shift and the local minimum wage, and let’s not forget the most important benefit of using these robots in place of humans. : they never call for illness.
Somatic already has a handful of customers, including a FAANG company, where the robot is used to clean the toilets.