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For Robots, It’s a Time to Shine (and Maybe Disinfect)


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The Neo floor-scrubbing robot at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

Demand for the Neo floor-scrubbing robot has shot up 100% since March.

Credit: Ty Wright/The New York Times

The Neo is a four-foot-tall, 1,000-pound robot floor scrubber. The high-tech machine can cruise large commercial buildings on its own, with no human supervision required.

Since its introduction in 2016, Neo's sales have roughly doubled each year, said Faizan Sheikh, the chief executive and a co-founder of Avidbots, the Canadian start-up that created the robot. This year, however, demand has shot up 100 percent just since the pandemic-induced shutdown in March. Suddenly, the need for thorough, reliable and frequent cleaning is front and center.

"Before, a top executive at a big company would not really have known how their facilities got cleaned," Mr. Sheikh said. "They would have outsourced it to a facilities management company, who might outsource it out again."

Now, company leaders are showing more interest, asking questions about the cleaning process and schedule, as well as safety and effectiveness. "That can lead to interest in automation," he said.

 

From The New York Times
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