Meet Neo, the smartest, purpose-built commercial floor cleaning robot. As people walked through Toronto’s Eaton Centre, a robot has been roaming around cleaning floors. When people would step in front of it, it would politely stop and wait until you move.
Have you heard of Avidbots? Technically, the robots are made in Kitchener, Ontario. It was named as a tribute to another famous Canadian, Keanu Reeves who starred as Neo in the Matrix. Avidbots is passionate about bringing robots to help us in our daily lives. They also aim to expand human potential by replacing them in doing repetitive tasks so that they can take on meaningful tasks instead.
The two young co-founders of Avidbots, namely Faizan Sheikh and Pablo Molina both met at the University of Waterloo.
“One day Pablo came to me, and he said, ‘Faizan, with all the advances that are happening inrobotics research, I think now is the time for something to be commercialized, for something totake off, and let’s work on it together,’” Sheikh recalls.
The original idea was to build a snow-shoveling robot since it’s deemed to be very useful in Canada. However, it’s a very seasonal work so they decided to make it an indoor cleaning robot instead. After five years, they have released robots in 14 countries that are now cleaning the floors. GDI, the company who owns the robot says that it’s amazing how these robots have freed workers from doing repetitive and basic tasks like scrubbing the floor. Now, they can focus on more complex tasks.
It was very interesting to see Neo in action. There was one time that it was heading straight towards a woman coming down the stairs and when she reached the bottom step, Neo backed up, turned left, and moved out of the way. The lady smiled and continued walking.
While we are often skeptical of robots and high-tech technologies. From self-driving cars to 3D- printed houses, these technologies can be quite terrifying when it comes to safety if by any chance it malfunctions
However, “By putting robots into the real world, we are changing the perception around robots,” Sheikh says. “That lends itself to really cool possibilities.” Which is actually very accurate. It has been quite a problem in work forces to find someone that will scrub the floor all day, so Neo here is a brilliant idea that has solved a lot of problems.
“Neo frees your cleaning staff to focus on other value-added, higher margin services, and allows you to clean more without the need for more resources.” According to the Avidbots website. If you really look into it, this technological advance is very helpful and so far poses no harm for the
environment. It just simply shows a window of opportunity for these technological creations to improve the workforce.