November 22, 2007
Robotic Lady Bird cleans the loo
Ever thought a bug could clean restrooms? Recently a group of enterprising companies unveiled an autonomous ladybug-shaped robot that has the capability of cleaning public restrooms at highway rest areas. The robot measures 1-meter (39-inch) tall, 1.35-meter (53-inch) long and is called “Lady Bird”. She is equipped with water tanks, brushes and other tools required to maintain the place spick and span. With its obstacle detection sensors, it makes sure that it doesn’t bump into people. What’s more this cute bot can even make polite conversation with the loo visitors via its antennae, which has speech recognition capabilities and a voice synthesizer. The restrooms on the highways are the ideal places to pick up info on the traffic scene, so this bot obliges the users with that info as well.
The developers, who are building Lady Bird for West Nippon Expressway Company Limited (NEXCO), plan to master the machine by March 2009, and they hope to one day see it cleaning toilets at hotels and other institutions. Lady Bird robots are expected to sell for about 3.5 million yen ($30,000) each.