LAS VEGAS — The Whiz commercial cleaning robot has been available for a few months in Asia, and it is now available in North America. SoftBank Robotics America and ICE Robotics announced the launch at the ISSA Show North America here today.
“Whiz represents a major technological upgrade in automating commercial processes that demand frequency, quality, and consistency,” stated Brady Watkins, head of commercial automation at SoftBank Robotics America (SBRA). “The scale and effort required to keep huge areas of carpet clean strains already overworked janitorial teams. Whiz supports cleaning teams to uplevel their hard work. By addressing this task, Whiz unlocks the team’s potential of creating healthier environments.”
The robot did not require any significant localization for the North American market, Watkins told The Robot Report. “Other than the language on the device, there weren’t too many modifications we had to make in order to get the product to market,” he said.
Whiz uses BrainOS, can learn 600 routes
Whiz was already in extensive trials at airports, hotels, offices, and academic campuses, said the companies.
“The launch in Japan showed us there was a definite appetite for a product like this,” Watkins said. “We saw that the workforce within commercial cleaning was dwindling and noticed similar patterns for maintaining consistent cleaning services in North America. That, combined with automation’s expansion into almost every industry, made us quite confident with launching Whiz in this market.”
The autonomous vacuum sweeper uses Brain Corp.‘s BrainOS navigation software, and staffers can teach it up to 600 cleaning routes. Brain Corp. and Alfred Kärcher SE & Co. yesterday announced a technology partnership for the industry’s first autonomous stand-on vacuum cleaner.
Whiz can send real-time alerts in case of problems, and it sends status reports to the cloud for data visualization and analysis. The mobile robot can clean areas up to 15,000 sq. ft., the size of three basketball courts, for three hours on a single battery charge.
“The battery is swapped out whenever a new battery is needed,” said Watkins. “This can happen whether the dust bag is filled or not. This is meant to enable ‘hot swaps’ on the go, with uninterrupted cleaning. Whiz comes with a docking station for the batteries.”
SBRA, ICE Robotics partner for RaaS offering
SoftBank and ICE Robotics U.S. jointly developed Whiz, which SoftBank added to its service robot portfolio last year. ICE Robotics is a new subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Intelligent Cleaning Equipment. It also offers the RS-26 autonomous scrubber in a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model.
“We’re pleased to join SoftBank Robotics on their U.S. launch and commercialization of Whiz,” said Mike DeBoer, president of ICE Robotics U.S. “Both of our companies see robotics and automation as foundational to real innovation that benefits companies, employees, and everyone’s day-to-day life.”
“The ICE Robotics team offers comprehensive sales, service, deployment, and technology support for our rapid scaling of Whiz in the commercial cleaning industry,” said Kass Dawson, head of business strategy at SBRA. “Our partnership is crucial to our mission of augmenting the cleaning workforce and elevating cleaning standards in the U.S.”
SoftBank said that the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is one of the first Whiz customers under a RaaS plan. The company said it plans to announce more customers soon.