Brain Corp: Revolutionising Robotic Cleaning
Brain Corp “builds brains for robots”. Although this may be a slight simplification of their role in the robotics industry, Michel Spruijt (VP of Brain Corp Europe) summed it up perfectly in an interview with us. Brain Corp seek to innovate in the field of AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots). This means making self-driving robots suited to a variety of tasks, from cleaning to heavy lifting, capable of avoiding both static and dynamic obstacles.
But are such robots universally welcomed? Though BrainOS powered robots have surpassed over 2 million hours of global operation with over 10,000 robots, many fear that increasing autonomy could remove humans from the equation entirely in the not-too-distant future. Putting the question to Michel, he stressed how Brain Corp’s robots were designed to be complementary, rather than to take over from humans entirely, with “the whole goal behind it [Brain Corp’s robots] is to make sure that the robot does the repetitive, heavy-lifting work whilst the humans do the more valuable tasks.”
BrainOS thrives on data (as does the entire field of AI, really). The data collected from the robots is given to the user in the form of a dashboard portal, displaying the area cleaned, routes the robot has taken and heat maps. But is this really all necessary? Is there ever such a thing as too much data?
Robotic efficiency drives the wealth of data produced….can you clean certain areas quicker or take a different route to minimise cleaning time? Are your robots consistently missing an area that needs to be cleaned? Brain Corp also place a heavy emphasis on UI, making sure that users can derive actionable insights from the data rather than just saying “Ooh! That’s a cool bar chart!”.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a game-changer for Brain Corp, forcing them to innovate and accelerate the development of new ideas. Evaluating how the global robotic cleaning landscape has changed since March, Michel made two key observations:
Obviously, more cleaning has taken place to help keep things safe
Public perception on cleaning has changed. Whereas pre-COVID, most of the cleaning was done at night, when the customers were gone, there is now actually a psychological benefit to making the cleaning robots more visible and doing the cleaning jobs during the day. This makes the customers feel more comfortable that the store/airport/warehouse is doing all they can to keep everything clean.
The final question was much more general: “What is the biggest challenge in the future of AI. What keeps you up at night?” Overcoming the public perception was one particular hurdle, he noted - trying to persuade people that autonomous robots can work side by side without taking over. “I don’t think we should be afraid of AI, we should embrace it as autonomous robots are a vital tool to enabling operational efficiency and can be capable of great things. What we are trying to do at Brain Corp is to show people that they do not need to be afraid of the unknown and that machines can be made in a manner that is easy to use. If you were to survey a group on their feelings, 50% would say that AI will kill our jobs and the other 50% would embrace AI.”
In the future, Brain Corp are looking to expand, thriving off the change in the market post-COVID. From robotic scrubbers in 2016 to airport floor-cleaners in 2020, Brain Corp want to seek more general applications of BrainOS. Personal cleaning robots? Stock repository scanners? Simply, Brain Corp are seeking to take laborious processes and use BrainOS to make them less boring. Michel hopes that in future, Brain Corp will become “the Microsoft of robotics”. With the desire to constantly innovate, it will be interesting to see whether, in 20 years time, Brain Corp will become a household name like your Microsofts and Apples. The sky is the limit for the robotic revolution….
Thumbnail and images from Brain Corp themselves and thanks to Michel Spruijt for being interviewed by us.