Cleaning is boring, tedious and repetitive work, and hence is an appropriate application for robots.
Although researchers from the field of robotics and artificial intelligence have taken great efforts to design robots for cleaning operations, an unorganized cleaning environment is still a major obstacle for these robots.
In addition, the total cost of system operation, cost of purchase, performance and battery life are some of the primary competitive factors in the cleaning robots market.
Palacín J et al (2004) studied the design of a complete floor-cleaning mobile robot and analyzed the compatibility between humans and cleaning robots. The study suggested that operation of robots must be separated from humans, and recommended the use of infrared sensors in robots for safety purposes.
Design of Cleaning Robots
The following are the components of cleaning robots:
- Cleaning Elements - Most of the robots employ vacuum for cleaning operations. Certain devices also use an electric broom with a battery-powered roller brush. The efficiency of the brush depends on the surface type as the brush cleans the surface by friction and also by generating a suction airflow to avoid dust generation. Other cleaning elements include a dust pan and a box for containing motors and sensors.
- Wheels and Motors – The robot is driven by DC geared motors comprising wheels that are attached to the gear axis. The wheels are generally linked to the central axis of the robot. The motors are placed at the back for more compatibility.
- Sensor – The cleaning robot may include different sensors. Floor sensors - infrared sensors operated based on floor reflection to prevent the robot from falling downstairs. Collision sensors - mechanical contact sensors for security purposes and detection of unexpected collisions. Distance sensors - ultrasonic sensors and placed perpendicular to the ground without any inclination for measuring distance.
- Battery – Incorporation of batteries in robots is usually inconvenient as recharge operation has to be manually performed by a user. However, technological advancements have led to the development of robots that recharge on their own.
How Cleaning Robot Works
Most of the robotic vacuum models move around with the help of one or more non-driven caster wheels and two drive wheels. The sensors beneath and inside the robots provide feedback about the environment and electronics status.
It also includes motors to generate suction and rotate brushes for sweeping debris. The robot will be at its docking station when it is not in use.
The robot and its docking station should be maintained in an open, accessible area to make it convenient for the robot to navigate away and back to the station. The station emits a light beam up to a distance of about 6 ft in a "V" shape.
The robot steers the room depending on 4 to 5 cleaning modes from circular-or spiral-shaped pattern to criss-crossing in diagonals, zigzagging and more.
During the cleaning process, the robot senses the light beam and moves from the docking station. It again heads towards the station using light when the cleaning process is completed.
The robot will not return back to the station until the cleaning operation is completed or its battery runs down. Robots without docking station can be manually connected to an outlet for charging through the power supply unit within them.
The desired schedule can be set using a button sequence, and it is stored in the program memory of the robot.
The key benefits of cleaning robots include the following:
- Most of the current robotic systems appear to be a compact, flat, disk-shaped device and hence they can reach all the regions which normal cleaner cannot reach.
- Easy to use.
- Highly efficient.
- The core technology used in these robots includes various sensors for detecting dust, battery usage, drops, path, etc.
- Repairable and upgradable.
Products on the Market - Advancements
Globally, the domestic and public cleaning robot market has achieved significant growth as these robots feature automatic cleaning functions, which makes it easier for humans. Since the introduction of the sleek, advanced robotic vacuum, cleaning methods have changed completely. Some products from leading vendors in the market are listed below:
Most of the robotic pool cleaners operate randomly with a lack of a systematic cleaning pattern, which eventually requires more hours thoroughly clean the entire swimming pool. These robots unnecessarily spend time on the walls to change direction and reach different regions of the pool.
The Aquabot Bravo developed by the Aquatron employs the Aqua Smart System that can change the pool's direction without the need for any additional mechanical devices.
Aquabot Bravo Robotic pool cleaner by Aquatron Robotic Systems
The system helps the cleaner to automatically cover and clean the entire swimming pool within an hour. It is suitable for cleaning any residential pool up to 800 ft2.
The key benefits of Bravo include the following:
- Its mechanical parts have long service life
- Saves energy
- Rapid cleaning.
Multi purpose robot
Multipurpose robot developed by Danduct Clean is a remote controlled vehicle for cleaning air duct. It features the following components:
- Remote controlled lift system
- 4 individual engines
- 3 strong halogen lamps
- 2 wide angel cameras
- Brush engines for rectangular and round air ducts
- Aluminum transportation box
- 10" color monitor with video recorder
- Joystick on the control box for remote control.
It also has a specially designed brush system which allows the robot to thoroughly clean difficult corners of the air passage. Additionally, it comes with optional equipments such as a manual lift system, additional brushes, turbo vent air nozzle for compressed air and spraying lance and magnetic valve for coating.
The key benefits of the multi purpose robot include the following:
- It easily carries a coating cable or a compressed air hose up to a distance of 30m or more
- It cleans nooks and corners of the air passage.
Bigmow developed by Belrobotics is one of the most efficient robotic mowers that clean grasslands of size up to 20 m2 and sports grounds. It features the following components:
- Armored wheels provided on a metal frame covered in a structured rubber base
- Stainless steel and aluminum chassis
- Brushless engine
- Synthetic bodywork.
The key benefits of Bigmow include the following:
- It is resistant to ultraviolet radiation
- Light in weight
- High strength
- Corrosion resistance.
Sources and Further Reading