Robotics
Jumbo cleaning robots

Intellibot800Home
These super-sized Roomba-like robots from IntelliBOT are cleaning facilities around the USA –
[via] Link.

If you want to make your own version, check out the how-tos on controlling a Roomba with a serial cable and/or Bluetooth.

12 thoughts on “Jumbo cleaning robots

  1. This isn’t DYI! Its about a company that’s made a blackbox intended to put some poor schmuck out of an even crappier job. To have any hope of being a DIY project robot IntelliBOT cleaning robots have to be hacked beyond all recognition (and warranty). I suggest that this posting is here because there is some serious techno-lust occurring. And not that I don’t agree, its a cool PRODUCT! But its certainly not something that rolled out from someone’s garage and it also not why I read Make. Get back on topic please.

  2. the rest of the post has how-to make your own, using a how-to here on make…it’s also in our “news from the future” category (in print and here on makezine.com). not every post is about diy, but as with this one, there is something folks can do, build and ponder about…like robots taking over cleaning crews.

    as far as intellibots being hacked, wait 10 years, i’m sure these will be on ebay :-]

  3. Phil,

    The rest of the post is how to hack a Roomba (which incidentally violates the warranty of that product as well). But since we’re thinking about the “future” let’s view this machine in the social context in which it may exists. To do this we need to break out the big measuring stick of sociology, because the place that this technology will work within is decidedly a human (and thus a social) one.

    A student of technology will understand that any machine is simply one possible tool which has been developed by some interested social group to solve a problem. To contextualize the tool one must understand both the interested social group(s) as well as the problem that the these people are trying to solve (see “Social Construction of Facts and Arifacts).

    Rob Bradford, Corthall’s regional vice president for the southeast says it best in the article that this blog links to “Our Customers expect quality, consistency and a good value.” He’s done our DIY sociology experiment a great service because with these words he’s provided the missing elements from which we can build a model to add context to this technological artifact (the Intellibot).

    Presently this kind of work is accomplished by laborers usually employed by third party contract owners who provide cleaning services for facility management companies. The person behind the machine provides two of the three elements of the equation that Bradford claims the robot will accomplish. A person with the proper tools can consistently provide quality service. Better the worker is capable of evaluating the quality of the work, well beyond the capacity of the machine, as a human.

    So by process of elimination we see what Bradford is really saying the machine can accomplish. What does it do? It eliminates the human mind that tells the buffer to turn left or right, go forward or stop. This mind is a part of a person that requires compensation for his work.

    Through this elimination we learn something about the true capability of the machine as well. Because it has no ability to evaluate so human a determination as the “quality of work” what you’re really buying is a motion control device that may leave your floors a mess when your office inhabitants show up the following morning.

    Ah, but you have saved some money and never mind the human you’ve devalued to the point of implied obsolescence. Never mind the technician you’ll be forced to bring in at 10 times the former workers wages to deal with the robot and its inevitable “quality control issues.”

    I am drawn to the DIY movement because it allows me to look beyond some sales rep’s vision of the future and contextualize technology in my life. This technology is interesting to the extent that it has some control circuts, a few sensors, and and bit of logic. But if we’re really pondering some machine as a relevant artifact in our lives perhaps we should consider the cleaning crew its intended to usurp.

  4. >>The rest of the post is how to hack a Roomba (which incidentally violates the warranty of that product as well).

    roomba states that they do not support the sci (for customer care, etc) and if you -mod- the roomba it will void the warranty, but controlling the roomba with a serial cable likely wouldn’t void the warranty – since this is pretty new, i’m not sure exactly what would happen if you only made a cable, the device broke and you were under the 1 year warranty. i suspect as more people do this, we might know for sure.

    now on to the fun – this was a great comment/post you had and exactly why i like posting stories about robots in the “news from the future” category.

    i pretty much agree with all the questions you’ve raised and then some – will a robot cleaner really do a better job? will it be cheaper, really, in the long run? will the end result be the cleaning crews operating / augmenting their capabilities with robotic co-workers, a hybrid of human only/robot only cleaning crews?

  5. I have personally worked with one of these. I am the cleaning supervisor at a high school and our department purchased some of these. I’ve had it there for almost 2 months.

    I got to see the thing work the way they claim ONCE! The rest of the time it has been nothing but grief. Their claim to cutting costs and making time more efficient is a bunch of bull. The tech has been out several times to fix. If not for our service contract agreement, our bill would be totaling close to $3K right now in parts and labor.

    It’s a piecer, straight up. I have no doubts this sort of technology is the future of everything but, right now . . .IT SUCKS.

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