Posted by: robotnews | April 1, 2006

Robot for Home Floor Cleaning

U0205295 Li Lei

The great and rapid spread of electronic and mechatronic technologies in the last decades have led to a massive introduction of technological devices in many aspects of every day life, from vocational activity to hobby and leisure. The introduction of technological devices in personal life and especially in activities at home enables people in need for support to reduce the daily housework.
Tubby is an autonomous floor cleaning robot which is designed by Samit Gokhale in university of Florida . It uses two brushes below the robot to sweep the floor as it moves around. Tubby initially follows a wall, cleaning close to the wall, then it performs random movements and avoids obstacles, thus cleaning the entire surface area.
A Motorola 68HC11 microprocessor is used to control the robot. As the robot has to overcome high surface friction, the actuation of the robot is handled exclusively by two 110 oz-in ball bearing servomotors that have been hacked to work as dc motors. The cleaning brushes are driven by two 43.2 oz-in servomotors. A spherical roller supported by roller bearings supports the rear of the platform. All the electronic and mechanical systems are neatly packed in an aesthetically designed platform using CAD modeling software like Pro-Engineering, and manufactured using Fused Deposition Method. Seven IR sensors are mounted on the platform. Three IR sensors are mounted on front and two each are mounted on the side of the platform. Bump switches are also provided on the front of the platform. In addition to these sensors, a special sensor hacked from a color laser printer is used. These sensors provide the robot with data, which is used to perform obstacle avoidance and wall following. As high torque rating servomotors are used, Tubby is able to travel on carpets as well. Tubby initially performs wall following, then travels the surface simultaneously performing obstacle avoidance to cover the entire floor area. During this the two cleaning brushes are continuously rotating using two servomotors. Thus the four servos provide a complete cleaning job of the entire surface area.
Navigation Technology:
Navigation methods of the cleaning robot can be considered as follows: (1) Random advance: the robot moves forward until colliding with an obstacle, and if it run against and obstacle, it turns around to the opposite directions of the obstacle and moves forward as in (a). (2) Zigzagging advance: the robot moves forward in a zigzagging form as shown in (b). (3) Rectangular spiral advance: the robot moves forward in a rectangular spiral form as shown in (c). When the robot goes along the wall, it modifies its direction to be parallel the wall. Tubby follows the first navigation method with certain modifications.
Nowadays, many kinds of clean robot have already been sold in the market, like Roomba Pro Elite FloorVac and RC 3000 cleaning Robot. Roomba Pro Elite is the ultimate in automated home floor care. It uses intelligent navigation technology to automatically clean nearly all household floor surfaces without human direction. In addition, a wealth of added features and accessories will give customers more ways to clean, and more ways to store their machine. In future, I believe these kinds of home assistant robots will become more and more popular so that people can spend less time working and more time enjoying their lives, especially for housewives.
References:
Yong-Joo oh and Yoshio Watanabe, “Development of Small Robot for Home Floor Cleaning”, SICE 2002, 3222 – 3223 vol.5
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Responses

  1. U0300641 Yeo Choon Wee

    I’ve seen this robot sold on the market. A good invention but due to its small size and flatness, young people who walk fast may not notice it’s presence and stepped on it. The robot does not move fast so its reaction to avoid human may not be fast enough to avoid the oncoming person.

    It would be great to operate it when no one is at home so when you return, the home will be clean. Another solution would be to project a hologram upwards when it’s operating so that we would know its presence instead of having the hassle to make sure one does not step on it.

  2. This robot is really a good invention. It saves people the trouble to clean the house. But i was wondering how is this robot powered? Rechargable battery? Or by A/C? How long can the battery last? And was wondering how long does this robot to clean the entire house?

    Another idea to prevent people from stepping on it could be to attach a long flag on the robot. But then this might impaired the robot’s abaility to clean places like under the bed.

  3. I saw this robot in one korean movie,it should be powered by chargable battery.

    I just wonder how can it detect and tell exactly the rubbish and non-rubbish, how to move on and clean the rough floor.

  4. I’m just wondering about the navigation system. For example, if using the zig-zag method, the robot covers a rectangular area in a left to right, then right to left manner. In the case where there is an obstacle in the way of one of these lines, wouldn’t the robot turn around on hitting the obstacle, meaning that the area behind the obstacle would be left uncleaned?

  5. U025313R Chua Kin Chye
    I’m just wondering about the navigation system. For example, if using the zig-zag method, the robot covers a rectangular area in a left to right, then right to left manner. In the case where there is an obstacle in the way of one of these lines, wouldn’t the robot turn around on hitting the obstacle, meaning that the area behind the obstacle would be left uncleaned?

  6. u0308283 Wu Chengyu

    i heard something about this kind of product from one of my other modules.it says that this kind of clearning robots does not sell well in the market, due to the fact that it does not really functioning well especially when the room has lots of furnitures and small corners. it tends to stuck in the corners or between furnitures since the path planning algo is always not smart enough and it need certain space for it to turn back if it gets stuck.

    further more, personally i doubt about its ability to make the room very clean since the brushes are simply not enough to collect/sweep all kind of things, such as hair… er, a bit gross. haha.


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