Commercial Cleaning Bots Work for Less Than Minimum Wage

Avidbots will scrub and clean commercial-grade floors at a low hourly cost, allowing human workers to concentrate on more difficult tasks.
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Avidbots will scrub and clean commercial-grade floors at a low hourly cost, allowing human workers to concentrate on more difficult tasks.
avidbots

Photo Credit: Avidbots

Avidbots are professional-grade cleaning robots, but they didn't start out that way. The founders, graduates from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, initially designed the Roomba-like bots for snow removal.

“While we were doing that, while we doing customer discovery, we realized it was going to be very hard for us to penetrate that market," cofounder Faizan Sheikh told Fast Company.

The show removal market varies from parking lot and street snow removal, which have very distinct differences. Additionally, snow removal, in its nature, is limited by geography and season. Demand can also change year to year, depending on the weather. This led the founders to focusing on cleaning solutions.

“Cleaning has to be done every night — it has to be done irrespective of whether it’s winter," Sheikh said.

The company's prototype can sweep and scrub floors and is fully autonomous with laser mapping technology. The bots are also Wi-Fi enabled, which allows them to communicate with each other to plan tasks, share map locations and to share progress.

“In robotics, a lot of things are very important: You have to have the mechanics down very well, the electrical design, and you have to have the artificial intelligence," Sheikh said.

Avidbots will be available to buy or for rentals by the hour. It will cost $6 per hour for scrubbing and $4 per hour for sweeping, which is much less than the minimum wage in the U.S. Sheikh says this could lead to companies allocating human workers to more difficult tasks.

“I see this as freeing up human beings to do higher-quality tasks,” he said. “If you have robots cleaning floors, then the cleaning guy can do other higher-value tasks like cleaning washrooms, cleaning windows, other complicated things that robots cannot do at the moment.”

Sheikh added that the bots will eventually have the ability for a larger range of tasks. See how the Avidbots work in the video below. 

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