Sunday, December 4, 2022

Automated Robotic Restroom Cleaning System for Convenience Stores

By Supriya Mangalpalli

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Researchers have developed a robotic system that could autonomously clean restrooms and other public spaces to upgrade hygiene

Cleaning operation using an automated system (Credit: Tezuka et al.)

Clean restrooms are very essential for convenience stores to encourage customers to stay longer and provide good business. The clerks appointed to clean restrooms are not consistent enough as they have different perceptions of cleanliness. Therefore, to maintain consistency in the cleanliness of restrooms, researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan University have developed an automated robotic system for cleaning restrooms in convenience stores and other public spaces. This would simplify the work of shop clerks and convenience store cleaners

The system is configured with a toilet bowl top surface cleaning mechanism, a toilet bowl lifting mechanism, and a restroom floor cleaning robot. By robotizing the restroom space itself, the system aims to streamline the cleaning operation and achieve accurate cleaning in a short time (less than 20 s)  

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When the robotic system is cleaning a restroom, toilet bowls are automatically raised and a floor cleaning mechanism (stored behind the bowl) moves to the area in front of the toilets. Furthermore, a cleaning tool with water-absorbing sheets is installed that starts wiping the floor and sides of the toilet bowl. It simultaneously collects any garbage on the floor. As the cleaning tool cleans the floor, a device built into the back of the toilet seat cleans the toilet rim. Wada and his colleagues tested their system in a series of experiments, where it was expected to clean fake urine and garbage. They found that it performed exceptionally well, completing individual cleaning tasks in approximately 17s and removing 97.8% of the urine-like liquid.

“The unique feature of this system is that it uses a mechanism that allows the toilet bowl to be raised or lowered,” Kazuyoshi Wada, one of the researchers who developed the system. “The toilet bowl is lifted to the height of a man’s crotch to reduce the scattering of urine and create space for floor cleaning. We believe that our work could lead to the development of a new market for toilet spaces with cleaning systems,” Wada said. “In our current system, the cleaning equipment is replaced with every cleaning, which is unrealistic for actual store use. To address this issue, we now plan to implement a function that allows cleaning equipment to be cleaned each time or replaced with a new one in the future.”

The researchers envision that their system will be commercialized and implemented in actual convenience stores. Additionally, the toilet bowl lifting mechanism they designed could inspire the creation of similar restroom cleaning systems.

Click for the Published Research Paper and Demo Video


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