It Drives Itself??? Automated Floor Machines
So many things are automated these days - no human interaction. We check ourselves out at the grocery store. We have that fake “soothing voice” guide us on customer care phone calls. Driverless trains can take us from Point A to Point B. Even surgeons make use of artificial intelligence by way of surgical robot assist systems. And with cars parking themselves, it seems logical that we could have a large floor machine driving itself.
We saw this technology demonstrated at the ISS/Interclean Conventon in Chicago, IL this October. Lots of great products on display and lots of innovation award winners.
The 2016 ISSA Innovation of the Year Award Winner, Autonomy by Brain Corp., received lots of attention for its product that takes existing brand-name floor equipment and makes them run autonomously, without direct operator control.
We watched this demonstrated as a machine outfitted with Brain Corp’s neuroscience-inspired Brain Module, turned corners and avoided collision with objects placed randomly in its path. It was quite impressive and we never saw it mow anything over.
A few other floor-care equipment manufacturers do offer similar technology. The machines they offer also do well in complex environments and were on display, making floors shine without ever bumping into obstacles.
This technology has been tried before but first generation robotic floor-care solutions had limited capabilities in complex environments.
San Diego’s Brain Corp set out to develop the kind of technology that could some day be used to operate self-driving cars. But before getting out on the open road, the company wants to show its self-driving system can function in real-world environments and on a machine that might already be owned. The company makes money through monthly subscription software that manages the self-driving process and provides detailed reports and notifications.
Brain Corp has loaded the module with sensors, cameras, 4G LTE connectivity and algorithms that allow it to learn its route and avoid random obstacles and human encounters. It claims its technology is different than others operating without requiring costly beacons or other infrastructure inside a building to guide the robot.
The real-world function works like this: A janitorial worker drives the EMMA (Enabling Mobile Machine Automation) equipped floor cleaner around the store or warehouse to teach the route. Then EMMA replicates that route every time. But more than just replication, if new obstacles appear, three types of sensors allow it to detect and avoid those obstacles. Some people need this technology on themselves.
The company was founded in 2009 by a team of computational neuroscientists, headed by Eugene Izhikevic, and was housed inside Qualcomm, working on artificial intelligence research projects. The startup moved off-campus in 2014.
The company’s technology is designed to eventually be used in forklifts and other manually operated industrial equipment, according to Phil Duffy, vice president of marketing.
It is currently partnered with NSS Enterprises of Toledo, Ohio, Minuteman International of Pingree Grove, IL, and International Cleaning Equipment (ICE). A global company headquartered in China, with distribution across the United States, Europe, and Asia. ICE USA is based in Holland, MI.
A reduction in the cost of labor in commercial floor-care was a driving force for launching a “brain-enabled” commercial floor scrubber. With labor costs making up as much as 80 percent associated with daily cleaning, companies have been looking for a way to reduce that cost.
ISSA Innovation Awards