Robot cleans house at south Georgia hospital - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Robot cleans house at south Georgia hospital

June 28, 2005

Albany - Cleaning up just got a little easier at a major south Georgia hospital, thanks to a high-tech robot. It mops, it vacuums, and it has a mind of its own. It's Intellibot. "This is a robotic machine we use to mop floors," said Dan Sansbury, Environmental Services.

The robotic mop is now cleaning and sanitizing the floors of Phoebe Putney Hospital one hall at a time. "10,000 square feet per hour," said Sansbury. The hospital's cleaning services, Crothall Services, tested out the Intellibot under the curious eyes of the custodial staff.

"I think it's very amazing to see a machine that does an excellent job scrubbing the floor," said custodian Jimmy Thornton.

To program the robot, you just walk it around the halls while sensors memorizes the dimensions of the hallway. Then turn Intellibot lose, and it becomes a literal cleaning machine. Don't worry about it ramming into patients and doctors. "There are sonar sensors all around the machine. Anytime it sees an obstacle blocking it, it stops automatically. Then it tries to find a way around it," said Sansbury.

The staff had to test it out for themselves. "They're like children. They want to play with the machine," joked Sansbury.

"It's kind of funny to step in front of it and watch it stop and change its course to get out of your way," said Thornton.

Between laughs, you could see the custodians were impressed but will the high technology make their jobs obsolete?

"No," said Sansbury. "There still has to be an operator, people doing the detail work on the floors, and people to polish the floors. It just frees up some more time so they can do other things."

"I don't feel threatened at all by it," said a laughing Thornton. The staff is already tossing around names for their newest worker - Intellibot just didn't seem good enough.

The Intellibot costs $30,000. Crothall Services Group paid for the robot.

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