April 22, 2020

The robot tipping point: Facilities cleaners recognize that autonomous cleaning robots supplement, not replace, human workers

If there’s one unifying experience we all share during this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s having our core beliefs shaken. Ideas we held firm — that work must be done in an office, that students should go to school, that travel opens minds — have been upended overnight.

As a robotics company, we’ve seen a sudden and profound change in how people view robots. As outlined in a Pew Research study before COVID-19, we were worried that robots would “take jobs” and automation would replace human workers.

Now, we’ve seen a complete shift in the conversation; almost everyone is wondering how robots, and technology in general, can help keep humans safe, productive and connected. Unsurprisingly, the same study found that 85% of Americans supported the idea that robots could do jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for humans.

At Avidbots, we’ve seen a 100% demand increase for our Neo autonomous floor scrubbing robot during the pandemic, and we anticipate demand will continue to remain high once the crisis has passed; society will demand a much higher level and frequency of cleaning and disinfection than before.

During the pandemic, Neo is sanitizing floors around the clock in critical locations such as hospitals, airports and warehouses. Facilities managers send Neo into potentially contaminated spaces to keep maintenance staff safe.

Before the pandemic, some cleaners had concerns that Neo floor cleaning robots would replace them. Now, they’re asking their employers to get Neo to make their jobs safer. They don’t want to enter potentially infected spaces or work in close proximity to other people. And it’s not just janitorial staff who suddenly see the value of cleaning robots. Consumers suddenly trust them more as well. For many of us, we won’t feel comfortable going back into public spaces unless facilities can guarantee they’re disinfecting on a regular and consistent basis.

With human workers, the quality of their cleaning is often uneven. Cleaning is a difficult and thankless job, so it’s no wonder cleaners sometimes feel unmotivated and cut corners.

Neo, on the other hand, doesn’t cut corners, always providing a consistent and measurable clean with next to no human intervention. The unit is easy to set up and operate, requiring no special training or programming. Once cleaning is underway, Neo automatically detects obstacles and dynamically updates its route — minimizing cleaning time and maximizing performance. When the world “re-opens”, consumers will feel safe knowing that Neo is continuously and effectively cleaning malls, airports, hotels, hospitals, train stations, warehouses and more.

We trust “robots” such as airport body scanners, cash registers and MRI machines to do a more accurate job than humans, so it’s only natural we’ve come to trust “robots” for highly specialized tasks, such as cleaning, sorting and stocking.

Overall, the pandemic has shone a light on the fact that robots are simply machines. They do certain tasks more efficiently and effectively than humans — and that’s OK. Robots won’t replace human workers. Instead, they'll work alongside them to make the world safer, cleaner and healthier.

To learn more about Avidbots and Neo, the autonomous floor scrubbing robot, please contact us