by Brianna Crandall — March 11, 2020 — SoftBank Robotics America (SBRA) and ICE Robotics recently announced the North American launch of Whiz, the commercial-grade autonomous vacuum sweeper, at the international ISSA Show North America in Las Vegas, Nevada, which features 700 exhibitors and convenes over 16,000 professionals from around the world. The robotic vacuum was voted the 2019 ISSA Innovation Award Category Winner for Equipment by cleaning industry professionals.
Following a successful launch in Japan and recent introductions to select markets across Asia, SBRA has now introduced Whiz to customers in North America. Publicly available now, Whiz has already put its innovation to work in commercial spaces across the country this year in pilots at airports, hotels, offices, campuses and more. At ISSA, SBRA introduced Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and PRIDE Industries as Whiz Robotics-as-a-Service customers who are reinventing cleaning standards in their industries.
According to Brady Watkins, head of Commercial Automation at SBRA:
Whiz represents a major technological upgrade in automating commercial processes that demand frequency, quality, and consistency. 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.
Whiz is powered by BrainOS, the award-winning commercial robot operating system, and can record up to 600 cleaning routes, for which staff teach the robot the initial floor-cleaning route upon their first use. Subsequently, routes are stored in Whiz so it can repeat the cleaning route autonomously on its own. Through cloud data visualization, cleaning and status reports on Whiz can be gathered and analyzed.
SBRA and ICE Robotics US jointly developed Whiz and have formed a strategic partnership to deliver the robotic vacuum sweeper in North America. ICE Robotics, the newly formed global subsidiary of Intelligent Cleaning Equipment, is focused on reducing repetitive tasks for cleaning professionals through the deployment of autonomous cleaning equipment and related technologies. The partnership emphasizes the importance of — and critical need for — robotics and automation within the commercial cleaning industry to augment the workforce in delivering cleaner, healthier lives.
ICE Robotics US President Mike DeBoer commented:
We’re pleased to join SoftBank Robotics on their US launch and commercialization of Whiz. Both of our companies see robotics and automation as foundational to real innovation that benefits companies, employees, and everyone’s day-to-day life.
Kass Dawson, head of Business Strategy at SBRA, stated:
The ICE Robotics team offers comprehensive sales, service, deployment, and technology support for our rapid scaling of Whiz in the commercial cleaning industry. Our partnership is crucial to our mission of augmenting the cleaning workforce and elevating cleaning standards in the US.
SBRA says it is also pleased to be working with forward-thinking partners in commercial spaces. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), one of the US’s fastest-growing airports, participated in the pilot program and is expanding its use of Whiz as part of their focus on global airport, community partner, and business operation leadership.
Brian Cobb, chief innovation officer of CVG, explained:
At CVG, innovation is not a buzzword; it’s a way of doing business — the new normal of advancing talent and technology deployments. We work with a lot of promising innovators, but Whiz is a forward-looking innovation that is actually driving results today. Already we’re seeing improved productivity and effective digitized asset management. Whiz also is helping to bridge the gap between workforce recruitment challenges and the work that needs to be done. Our focus continues to center on exceeding customer expectations while delivering on our brand commitments, which is why we’re expanding our relationship with SBRA and integrating Whiz as a valued addition for our staff.
With its small build and computer vision navigation, Whiz can navigate its way close to walls and avoid obstacles, while the notification pager can send real-time alerts in case of any unexpected issues. Whiz can clean areas up to 15,000 sq. ft., the size of three basketball courts, for three hours on a single-battery charge.
Whiz marks SBRA’s latest evolution in its robotic portfolio. Banks, retailers, hotels, and hospitals have benefitted from SBRA’s humanoid robot, Pepper, engaging and helping customers at the front-of-house. Educators have benefitted from both Pepper and NAO, the company’s smaller humanoid robot, in the classroom.
Partner robotics companies such as Simbe and ICE Robotics are integrated into SBR’s global inventory and distribution network. In their next step of augmenting the workforce through automation, Whiz is designed to benefit the commercial spaces we expect cleanliness from, use, and maintain on a daily basis.
In addition to Whiz, ICE Robotics offers the RS-26-AU autonomous scrubber EMMA (Enabling Mobile Machine Automation), marketed through a subscription-based offering around the globe.
For more information on the Whiz robotic vacuum sweeper or to schedule a demo, visit the SoftBank Robotics website.