The Nilfisk Horizon Program For Autonomous Cleaning Equipment Or The Nilfisk Robots Are Coming!!
Until lately, autonomous cleaning equipment (ACE) let’s just call them cleaning robots! has focused on the domestic market, mainly with robotic vacuum cleaners, whilst neglecting big businesses needs for professional cleaning robots (ACE).
During the development of cleaning robots (ACE), having constantly effective suction and navigating a pathway where objects may move at random, have been some of the major factors limiting its progress.
Interestingly, the first robot vacuum cleaner to go into production was the Electrolux Trilobite,which used ultrasonic sensors and was featured on the BBC’s TV program Tomorrow’s World in 1996.
The Trilobite was created by The Kent Corporation which was later acquired by Nilfisk.
In 2001 Dyson built a prototype robotic vacuum cleaner, the DC06, and later In 2002 the iRobot Corporation launched, what went on to be the household robotic vacuum cleaner market leader, the Roomba.
Bringing us up to date, the current 7th generation of the Roomba, the 900 series, uses a camera in conjunction with onboard mapping and navigation software to systematically cover the home’s floor area. Interestingly, the domestic robot vacuum cleaners, have been popular targets for hacking and that activity is actively encouraged on the Roomba, to help improve the product!
However, hacking is probably the major challenge for robot manufacturers worldwide to secure against.
Ecovacs introduced Deebot, the floor cleaning robot in 2007 and so were a myriad of Roomba clones.
Progress for cleaning robots (ACE) in the commercial world was at a much slower pace, however Cleanfix from Switzerland launched the Robo 40 in 2009 and currently have the Robo 2 working in the Tesco fulfillment center located in Crawley UK.
In 2015 Sealed Air Diversey Care acquired Intellibot (HP Products owned by Ferguson Enterprises Inc.) to work with their Taski brand of cleaning equipment and these cleaning robots are currently used around Australia, including some large shopping centres.
(Image courtesy to Taski)
Whilst these latter two products are available right now, they may in my view, be termed stereotypical robotic in their operation!
Avidbots from Canada launched in 2014 and continued into production in 2016 with the Neo. Whilst the Neo seems a bit clunky, Avidbot seem to be firmly committed to robotic equipment for general commercial use worldwide.
Nilfisk, who worldwide are well known for deep, wet-and-dry cleaning, began working on autonomous cleaning equipment in about 2013 and looked for a suitable partner, a world-class robotics company to help them develop the Nilfisk Horizon Program
Ideally suited to a partnership with Nilfisk, Carnegie Robotics which emerged from Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Centre (NREC).
Carnegie Robotics make robotic products for de-mining operations in worldwide combat zones. They also work with underground mining equipment as well as work with defence organisations.
All these are ideal proving grounds for equipment to be used in hostile environments.
The Nilfisk-Carnegie partnership totally revolutionises the definition of autonomous cleaning equipment producing a standout machine, not something that resembles a robot, that swallowed a floor scrubbing machine!
Debuting with the Liberty A50, it introduces autonomous floor scrubber cleaning, to relieve the pressure on companies to operate otherwise complex floor maintaining equipment manually.
The Horizon Program offers companies who choose to become involved, significant productivity increases through a totally autonomous cleaning solution.
With a focus on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and preserving company productivity, the Liberty A50 offers intelligent self-learning technology with two modes of learned floor cleaning.
The Liberty A50 uses dynamic mapping, which allows it to adapt when the environment around it changes.
The four state-of-the-art unique sensors, 3D, 2D, Infrared and Depth transducers. each focus on a different element of detection.
One sensor detects people so as to avoid disrupting them, whilst another acknowledges inanimate obstacles.
Other sensors monitor the Liberty A50’s position for maximum situational awareness.
The mapping process for the Liberty A50 with support for three modes of operation options, which are, CopyCat™ for specific cleaning requests.
In CopyCat™ mode, the operator “records” the path it wants the A50 to take. Pressing “PLAY” once the recording is held in the memory, means the A50 will copy this path exactly whenever, the “PLAY” function is selected.
Fill-in mode requires the operator to take the A50 around the perimeter of the work area, and the A50 will then clean the area inside on its own. For instance, on a basketball court.
Manual, enables the machine to be used as a normal stand-on floor scrubber, just like the Nilfisk SC1500
So why Nilfisk Horizon instead of other autonomous cleaning equipment?
Unlike consumer robotic vacuum cleaners available today, which lack the suction, consistency and versatility to operate within large warehouses, hospitals and expansive office spaces for where the Liberty A50 was specifically designed to be used.
No previous machine has been able to efficiently operate within the business environment and at the same time, maintain the safety standards that customers require and expect from equipment in the work space.
The Nilfisk Horizon Program meets those issues completely.
The opinions expressed here are my own, the sources for my post have come from Wikipedia, Nilfisk, with images from the Nilfisk Media Centre, Carnegie Robotics, Avidbots, ICE, Cleanfix, Taski, and Intellibot
Andy 18th February 2018