Brain Corp, a San Diego-based provider of autonomous navigation systems, continues to expand its footprint in the robotic floor cleaning market. Brain today announced a partnership with Nilfisk, a Copenhagen, Denmark-based cleaning solutions provider that has been around for 110-plus years.
Nilfisk will license the BrainOS AI platform for the production, deployment, and support of its robotic floor cleaners. According to a Brain representative, “there are no Brain-Nilfisk products on the market currently.” Nilfisk already has the Liberty SC50 autonomous scrubber. It will add Brain’s technology and expertise to the mix going forward as part of a new initiative.
Brain raised a $114 million Series C round in July 2017 led by the SoftBank Vision Fund. Brain Corp. will be speaking at the Robotics Summit & Expo, which is produced by The Robot Report and runs June 5-6 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. In a session called “The Role of UX in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence,” Robotics Product Designer Di Le and Software Engineer Hamid Badiozamani will discuss the importance of UX as the driving factor of conversation on how robotics gets integrated into an industry, what that reception is like, and what is needed for that adoption to take place. Register by March 29 to take advantage of early bird pricing.
One of Nilfisk’s primary goals for 2019 is to scale production of the Liberty SC50 for commercialization across several geographies. The Nilfisk Liberty SC50 has been in development for a few years now, but Nilfisk said in its 2018 annual report that the first Liberty SC50 robots were shipped to customers in 2018, including three of the world’s largest facility service providers.
2018 was a disappointing year financially for Nilfisk, which said the “total organic growth of 2.0 percent for the full year was clearly below our expectations. This was partly due to an unsatisfactory performance in our US business. Another negative impact on total growth came from the accelerated exit from our production facility in Suzhou, China, which affected results in our Consumer and private label businesses.”
Revenue in 2018 was 1,054 mEUR, which was down 28 mEUR compared to 2017. Nilfisk said it expects up to 10 percent of its annual revenue to come from autonomous cleaning solutions within 4-5 years.
“The partnership with Brain Corp is a strong addition to our multi-partner strategy for connected autonomous cleaning solutions. We constantly strive to offer our customers access to the right partners and technologies at the right time and build a strong position for Nilfisk in the future ecosystem around connected autonomous cleaning,” said Hans Henrik Lund, CEO of Nilfisk. “We have a vision to lead intelligent cleaning – and with BrainOS developed by Brain Corp, we take yet another step towards this goal.”
Nilfisk is using a multi-partner approach to the development of its robotic floor cleaners. In 2016, it started working on its first autonomous solution, the Liberty SC50, in close collaboration with Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Robotics. Nilfisk said Carnegie is still a close partner, and the two companies will continue to scale production of the SC50 and roll it out to more markets in 2019. Carnegie will remain Nilfisk’s partner for this platform and will work with them on new products. Again, the purpose of the partnership with Brain is to develop solutions that are differentiated from the SC50.
The commercial floor cleaning market accounts for an estimated $5 billion in global sales annually. Brain entered the robotic floor care market in 2015 and has partnered with a number of leading original equipment manufacturers, including International Cleaning Equipment, Minuteman International, NSS Enterprises, and Tennant. Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, also recently rolled out 360 Brain-powered floor-cleaning robots in stores across the US.
“Our technology platform was developed with scalability and extensibility in mind for our partners,” said Dr. Eugene Izhikevich, CEO of Brain Corp. “By partnering with us, Nilfisk can focus on their core business strengths while relying on BrainOS to provide a safe, robust, enterprise-grade, commercially-supported foundation for their autonomous cleaning solutions.”
Editor’s Note: This article was update on March 28, 2019 with additional information about Nilfisk’s multi-partner robotics strategy.