In a time when AI is being used in everything from sneakers to music and movies, it’s sort of interesting, perhaps even surprising, to see it tackle some of the less-glamorous tasks, such as cleaning toilets.
From New York’s backstreets comes Somatic’s autonomous toilet-cleaning robot, revealing that, yes, robots, too, can roll up their metaphorical sleeves for the less-coveted gigs.
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Reimagining restroom maintenance
Cleaning bathrooms is a tough job, but who doesn’t appreciate a sparkling restroom? I know I do. This innovative germ-killing invention tackles this exact issue.
For $1,000 a month, the Somatic robot will be your loyal janitor. This little bot works a full 40 hours a week, and after doing its thing, it chills in a closet until it’s time to clean again.
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With agility, it navigates between floors, manages doors and meticulously cleans with high-powered disinfectants, ensuring that every corner shines. It’s like an evolved Roomba for your bathroom.
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Virtual training for real-world cleaning
The intriguing part isn’t just the fact that it tirelessly cleans bathrooms, but also its initial setup. The robot is equipped with sensors that pave the way to maneuver spaces, mapping the building’s intricacies through video and 3D depth data.
At the company’s headquarters, operators don the role of a virtual janitor in what’s dubbed “the world’s most uninspiring video game,” detailing the robot’s cleaning trajectory.
Think of setting your “space” when wearing VR goggles. Since most restrooms generally have a similar layout, the set-up is a one-time intensive process where the bot is essentially trained to do its job. Then it retreats to recharge or refill its cleaning arsenal.
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Human-AI collaboration in janitorial work
Somatic’s brainchild isn’t out to replace the janitorial workforce. Instead, it focuses on regular sanitation tasks. What happens when the robot encounters a mess so big that it’s beyond its skillset? The robot smartly sends photographic evidence to the human janitors and continues its cleaning journey elsewhere.
The company sees this as a great option for airports, casinos, office spaces and more. This robotic janitor is already in action with the hope that, one day, a mini version will be available to consumers.
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The ethical and social implications of an AI toilet-cleaning robot
While Somatic’s autonomous toilet-cleaning robot may seem like a convenient and cost-effective solution, it also raises ethical and social concerns and the impact of AI on human labor and dignity.
How will human janitors feel about working alongside machines that can perform their tasks more quickly and cheaply? Will they be able to retain their sense of pride and purpose in their work?
This janitorial robot may be unable to handle all the complexities and nuances of restroom maintenance. For instance, how will it deal with vandalism, graffiti or broken fixtures? How will it communicate with the people using the restroom and respect their privacy and comfort?
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Kurt’s key takeaways
AI has had a diverse journey, to say the least, from passing the bar exam to impacting various creative roles in Hollywood. This trajectory demonstrates the multifaceted capabilities of AI, from the complex to the seemingly mundane, like our dedicated toilet bot. What stands out is AI’s untapped ability to serve diverse needs across different areas of life.
With AI popping up everywhere, where do you think it’ll show up next? If you could get a robot to do one thing for you, what would it be? Let us know your ultimate robot wishes by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
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