Despite being monotonous and repetitive, cleaning tasks still tend to be carried out by hand. However, manually operated cleaning devices involve high staffing costs, including the necessary training and operating time. Due to significant staff fluctuation rates in the cleaning industry, a lot of time is spent on showing workers how to operate these devices. In addition to this, the demographic change is causing fewer and fewer trained cleaning staff to be available on the employment market. Also, in areas where security is an issue, workers must be especially trustworthy. Furthermore, the increasing complexity of state-of-the-art architectures means that more and more areas in buildings where cleaning staff work are becoming extremely difficult or even impossible to reach.
This is where autonomous cleaning solutions come into play. They could also be implemented in industrial or hazardous environments, or where cleaning devices pose a threat to humans. An autonomous cleaning machine would therefore significantly lower safety risks. Disinfection tasks carried out to combat the coronavirus or other circulating pathogens would also be suited well for automization. As a result, staff would not be exposed to potential infection hazards and disinfection tasks could be performed continuously, for example overnight.
For many years, Fraunhofer IPA has been involved in developing relevant key technologies for cleaning robots. The focus is not only on the acquisition of cleaning parameters via sensors but also on the development of robotic hardware specifically adapted to the case in question.
Further experience in the field of cleaning robotics for the consumer sector can be drawn upon when it comes to using cost-effective hardware components and correspondingly efficient processing methods.