Japanese Office Building Employs Floor Cleaning Robot

Dec 4, 2008
Chiho Matsuda, Nikkei Monozukuri
The Cleaning Robot introduced in the Sumitomo Building
The Cleaning Robot introduced in the Sumitomo Building
[Click to enlarge image]

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd and Sumitomo Corp announced Dec 3, 2008, that they introduced their jointly developed unmanned floor cleaning robot system into Sumitomo Building in Osaka City, Japan.

In this system, an autonomous cleaning robot moves between the floors of the office building using elevators and cleans the floor surfaces of corridors and other common spaces. It is operated by Reibi, the company that is in charge of cleaning the building and partially financed by Sumitomo.

The robot used in the system is based on the one that was introduced in Harumi Triton Square in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, in 2001. But the new robot features an enhanced drive motor, more durable power circuits and other improved functions.

Specifically, its safety was enhanced by employing a laser-type range sensor to detect obstacles and improving the signal processing program. In addition, the lifting mechanism of the vacuum device was changed from a motorized system to a manually-operated mechanism with a wire, reducing the cost and weight.

When the robot moves between floors, the light transmission devices installed in the robot and the elevator communicate with each other to open and close the door and indicate the destination. It can be equipped with a camera to record its work. It is possible to check the status of the robot and its surroundings by recording the whole operation on a hard disk.

In the past, Fuji Heavy Industries developed an outdoor cleaning robot for the "Next-Generation Robot Commercialization Project" of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). And the company demonstrated it at Expo 2005 Aichi Japan in 2005.

Furthermore, taking advantage of the "Service Robot Market Creation Assistance Project" by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the company improved the safety, reliability and maintainability of the robot.

Fuji Heavy Industries and Sumitomo have already introduced this system to Royal Parks Shinden, a rental apartment building in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, and the Sumitomo Shoji Izumi-cho Building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. In December 2006, the system was awarded the grand prize of METI's "Robot Award 2006."