There are three different types of janitors. There are the ones that seem to be constantly grumpy and growl obscenities under their breath, the eccentric ones with a heart of gold, and now there is this nameless robotic janitor, simply called a Multipurpose Network Service Robot. The robot janitor is no everyday dust vacuum. It also comes equipped with a video camera, WiFi, and the ability to apologize for interfering or running over someone’s feet.
Created by Figla, this Japanese cleaning machine is currently on display in Osaka as a feature of the Robot Laboratory project. Using infrared, gyroscopes, bumper sensors, and ultrasonics, the robot janitor can maneuver into tight spaces without being too much of a nuisance. Using its WiFi technology and camera, the robot streams a video feed to a control center to monitor its progress. This robot is expected to be commercialized some time next year at the going rate of ¥1 million ($8,500). — Andrew Dobrow