Supermarkets, as well as other industrial, commercial and public use premises, such as airports, trade fairs and hospitals, have huge floor surfaces that have to be cleaned daily or even several times during the day. Cleaning those surfaces is time demanding and requires human effort, in terms of repetitive actions. Those cleaning activities take place at different times of the day, often with a tight schedule, depending on the area that has to be cleaned and on the available time slots. The economic viability of the cleaning service provider often relies on low wages and low-skilled personnel. Furthermore, cleaning tasks have often been related to workers’ health issues. Therefore, floor washing activities are best suited for robotization.
Currently, there exists no robot that satisfies the requirements of the professional users and cleaning service providers. Floor washing tasks have many demanding aspects, including operational autonomy, navigation precision, safety with regards to humans and goods, interaction with the human cleaning personnel, paths optimization, easy set-up and reprogramming.
FLOBOT addresses these problems by integrating existing and new results to produce a professional, robotic scrubber-dryer (floor washer with brushes and suction to dry the floor) for large areas. The system consists of a mobile robotic platform (the floor washing robot) and a docking station for automatically refilling the robot’s water tank, emptying the dirty water tank and recharging the battery. FLOBOT uses advanced software modules for navigation and mapping, human tracking for safety, floor cleanliness level estimation, mission programming and connection to the logistics management system of the end-users.
Project requirements come directly from the professional end-users. The work that will be carried out on production prototypes will ensure that the actual system is completed and ready for real-world use shortly after project completion. The robot and the whole concept will be validated in four different pilot sites: a large supermarket and a hospital in Italy, as well as in the Lyon airport and in a logistics warehouse in France.
• To develop an autonomous, robotised, professional washing machine for large premises, ready for real-world use shortly after project completion
• To develop FLOBOT as a robotic system that increases the quality of service and lowers the cost of operation, while preserving competitiveness and respecting workers’ rights and health, abiding to all related laws and regulations
• To integrate modular, low cost solutions for mapping, localisation, autonomous navigation, object detection and human tracking, building on existing research results and commercial know-how of the consortium partners
• To develop user interfaces for easy mission and tasks reprogramming, remote supervision and control of the robot
• To prove the usability and flexibility of the robot by testing it in four real-world use-case scenarios
In order to achieve the objectives, the FLOBOT work plan is divided into 8 work packages (WPs), each targeting different objectives, tasks and expected results.
WP1: Project Management
WP2: User requirements, Risks assessment, Preliminary Design
WP3: Standards, Legal and regulatory issues, Certification
WP4: Hardware development
WP5: Software development and Integration
WP6: System integration and prototype laboratory testing
WP7: Validation in operational scenarios and Qualification Review
WP8: Dissemination, Business Plan, Exploitation