A Robotic Vacuum Designed for Hotels

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As a freshman at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management, Micah Green was required to spend a day as a room attendant to pass a course called “Introduction to Hotel Operations.” Mr. Green recalls his shift cleaning fourteen hotel rooms as one of the most physically grueling experiences of his life.

That day in 2015 would also foretell the creation of Maidbot—a robotics company on a mission to empower humans. Combining his interest in robotics, hospitality, and employee wellbeing, Mr. Green secured a $2,500 Accelerator Program grant from Cornell and began work on “Rosie,” inspired by the housekeeper robot from the iconic 1960s animated television show, The Jetsons.

Maidbot’s Rosie vacuums carpets and collects data about room temperature and WiFi status

In 2017 Mr. Green was awarded a $100,000 fellowship from the Thiel Foundation. An angel round of funding provided the capital to build a team and produce several prototypes and iterations of Rosie.

At a svelte nine pounds, Rosie is about one-third the weight of a commercial vacuum. With its Lidar object detection and mapping of each room, Rosie resembles a self-driving car as it navigates its path, evading obstacles in its way. And while she is vacuuming, Rosie is collecting important data for hotel management on factors such as internal climate and Wi-Fi status. If a guest room, for instance, has the heat blasting with its windows open, supervisory personnel may immediately address the issue. If the Wi-Fi signal is weak, proactive steps may be taken. Using Rosie, hotel operators can create operational efficiencies, increase the standard of cleanliness and reduce facility costs.

Rosie can also help reduce workplace injuries. Room attendants have the highest injury rates in the service sector and are second only to factory workers in the private sector. Shoulder, wrist, and back injuries are common. Rosie allows its human partners to focus on less physically demanding tasks while it takes care of the floors. Sanitizing in the time of Covid-19 has become a top priority; Rosie enables room attendants to focus their energies on the enhanced cleaning protocols of the pandemic.

Rosies have the ability to interact with other Rosies. Expansive areas such as hotel corridors and meeting rooms can be handled by multiple ‘bots coordinating via Artificial Intelligence. Mr. Green stated that demand is strong for Rosie in apartment and office buildings, assisted living facilities, colleges and airports. No active marketing has been necessary. Texas and Colorado hotels are current Rosie hot-spots, yet Austin-based Maidbot has signed contracts with companies world-wide.

Maidbot’s next products will focus on disinfecting and wet cleaning in order to further respond to enhanced Covid-19 cleaning and sanitizing standards.  Mr. Green envisions a future Rosie humanoid platform resembling her Jetsons namesake. “Food prepping, cooking, maintenance. Ultimately anything a human can do,” he stated.

David Liepman
August 20, 2020

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