Cleaning bathrooms is an absolutely worthy and respectable profession, but it is still a task with certain drawbacks that we will not mention. Putting a robot in charge of these tasks can be a great idea, as it takes humans away from having to go through such tedious processes. The problem is that they are usually rough and inefficient due to the intrinsic randomness of the dirt.
So how can we get a robot to do this job right, given all the randomness factors out there? Somatic, a New York startup has designed a robot that is dedicated to cleaning bathrooms and being a commercial option. This robot trains with virtual reality.
Remotely, the team does the work using a virtual reality simulation to teach the robot where to clean and apply chemicals or to dry, vacuum, and so on. Anecdotally, the team calls it “the worst video game in history.”
The robot that prepares with VR
According to Michael Levy, CEO and co-founder of the firm, he was inspired by this project after cleaning the bathroom of his grandfather’s restaurant for years. And precisely this is the problem of putting robots in this task; the nature of the dirt is random, something that goes against the functions programmed in advance with the robots.
The solution is virtual reality. These robots are based on the static nature of commercial toilets, which are usually very similar. Somatic robots only have to train once, before doing the job. The team orders the robot using a virtual reality simulation of the bathroom. Once everything is in place, the robot uses sensors of all kinds to move around the stage.
The robot, in addition to cleaning the bathroom, will recharge and refill chemicals if necessary. In fact, according to Somatic, he can do around 8 hours of cleaning in a day and can open doors and use the elevator to move around buildings, in part to find supply rooms for cleaning equipment.
There are many applications for these robots; airports, casinos, offices and other places that are equipped with large commercial bathrooms. The robot will work on a rental basis; the company that wants it will have to pay about $ 1,000 a month after a trial phase. In fact, Somatic already has a number of clients whose offices are already being cleaned by a robot.
“The reason toilets are a good app [for these robots] is because everything is bolted to the ground. Things are moving predictably. All commercial toilets built since ’94 are ADA compliant. since 1990) .What is good for robotics, since it establishes a very specific design.”