Mobile cobots to automate cleaning tasks in canteens

A new innovation project, FacilityCobot, aims to develop a unique mobile robot that can relieve cleaning staff of repetitive or physically demanding tasks. The solution integrates an intelligent building sensor system with a human-robot interface, allowing the robot to work effectively side-by-side with cleaning staff in large open spaces such as canteens and offices.

Mobile robots that remove dirty dishes and empty bottles from canteen tables could become commonplace in companies and public institutions in the near future. As part of the FacilityCobot interdisciplinary innovation project, technology companies Enabled Robotics and Ubiqisense have partnered with the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), consultancy K-Jacobsen, Signal Architects and service provider d ISS facilities to develop an advanced robot for specific facility management -Services.


Lars-Peter Ellekilde from Enabled Robotics explains: “Equipped with artificial intelligence and advanced software, the robot will be able to move in space, recognize and pick up objects such as coffee cups and water bottles, and clean the table with a specially designed tool . . At the same time, permanently installed sensors in the room “communicate” with the robot and provide insight into usage patterns and objects in the room.”

It is the integration of the robotic technology with the occupancy sensor of the smart building sensor system that makes the robotic technology revolutionary, says the team: “By transmitting data to the robot from existing smart sensors, often already integrated into today’s modern office buildings, we will Expand knowledge about the use of space and thus also the capabilities of the robot.

“Unlike other robotic solutions like floor cleaning robots and robot vacuums, this will allow FacilityCobot to work more efficiently and at a more advanced level – at table height in collaboration with employees,” said Palle Dinesen, CEO and co-founder of Ubiqisense.

The project partners see great potential for the new robot solution: “The facility management industry is continuously focusing on sustainability and automation. This innovative robotic solution will be a great tool to support these programs,” said Kim Jacobsen, CEO of K-Jacobsen. A/S and Chairman of the Digitization Committee of Danish Facility Management.

Ambitions are high for ISS. “Our people are our most valuable asset, and we firmly believe that technology is key to optimizing and innovating our services and working methods,” says Anders Dedenroth Høj, director of methods and technologies for cleaning at ISS WorldServices.

“FacilityCobot has the potential to free our employees from the most strenuous cleaning tasks and allow them to focus on other tasks that add value to customers. The goal of ISS is to make FacilityCobot an integral part of our overall offer in the future.

The robotic sensors and tool have now been developed, and the next phase of the project is to further develop and test the integration of the robotic technology with smart building sensors. The robot will also be tested in a real canteen with ISS cleaning staff.

Although the project focuses on canteens as its main location, its ambitions are broader. “Most likely, this new technology can also be used in other settings such as large open plan offices, airport seating areas and gates, and hospital waiting areas,” says Professor Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard of the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at SDU.

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2023.

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