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Could floor scrubbing robots take over cleaners' jobs?28th of April 2015
Autonomous cleaning robots could soon be drafted into service on the floors of supermarkets, airports and industrial premises.
Developed as part of an EU-funded project, the machines would be able to clean large floor areas more efficiently than teams of human cleaners according to the research team.
Scientists from several European institutions are cooperating on a €4.2m project to develop 'Flobot', a market-ready machine capable of scrubbing large floor areas while avoiding members of the public.
The team is modifying existing scrubbing machines with the addition of electronics and sensors to make them autonomous. The robots are guided by a laser range-finder plus a 3D camera to detects the presence of humans.
"Our key aim is to programme Flobot to detect and track people moving around so as to avoid them, and also be able to estimate typical human trajectories in the premises where it operates," said Nicola Bellotto from the University of Lincoln who is working on the robot's software.
Professor Tom Duckett - also from the University of Lincoln - adds: "The general idea is to create professional service robots that will work in our everyday environments, providing assistance and helping to carry out tasks that are currently very time and labour intensive for human workers."
The team is working on a prototype of the programmable machine.