Robots clean up after Covid-19

December 14, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
Robots clean up after Covid-19
Phil Duffy, vice president of Innovation at Brain Corp, talks to Nick Flaherty about the development of robots that can be used in public spaces

Robots offer transformational value, but until now have been relegated to tightly controlled operating environments. Brain Corp in San Diego has created AI software that system developers use to build autonomous machines that can navigate safely and efficiently in public indoor spaces such as retail stores, airports, hospitals, and more.

Demand has grown as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic for robot cleaning systems. The company raised $36m (€30m) in April to expand its AI technology globally, bringing the total investment to over $160m (€135m). The robots are trained by operators, once, to follow a route.

“The world of fully autonomous robots has only been around at scale for the last five years. We started with neuromorphic computing research and we looked at how the brain processes vision and how the brain learns and that gave us a technology that could be applied to robotics to solve navigation in complex environments,” said Phil Duffy, vice president of Innovation at Brain Corp. 

“We have over 14,000 robots out in the industry which we believe is the largest fleet operating in public environments, retail, airports,” he said. “The retail  and the cleaning industry adopted robots earlier than anyone one so they were semi-prepared for Covid-19 – we have seen 133 percent increase in usage during daytime hours as result. That leaves staff to sanitise the areas that robots cannot.”

The key is the data showing where the robot has travelled, and customers set their own compliance levels to show that areas are clean.

“One of the reasons we went into retail space is its complex. Cleaning, inventory delivery and scanning - if we can solve retail then we can go into area, and it’s very scalable. When we look at robots today, where autonomous robots navigate such as material handling or cleaning, and then into mechanical arms for industrial automation – there’s a huge opportunity for robots,” he said.

Next: Training robots for autonomy

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Software for Brain Corp enables autonomous robots for cleaning in public spaces

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