The European director of Brain Corp, a US-headquartered AI firm developing autonomous cleaning robots, has spoken to Health Tech World about the technology’s uses and its potential within the healthcare sector.
Brain Corp’s BrainOS is an AI software platform that powers the firm’s fleet of more than 14,000 autonomous mobile robots, operating in indoor public spaces.
Robots enabled by BrainOS navigate autonomously, avoid obstacles, adapt to changing environments, manage data, and interact with end-customers.
Last year, the company expanded operations into Europe, establishing a European office in Amsterdam, and is powering autonomous cleaning robots within retail spaces, airports, schools and hospitals.
European director Michel Spruijt spoke with HT World about the technology’s use within hospitals.
“We have seen that since COVID started, the use of our robots has increased. The reason for that is everybody expects everything to be cleaner, and so you need to make it cleaner with the same amount of staff.
“If you can have a robot that is doing the heavy lifting, you can focus your staff on cleaning up more higher touch surfaces.
“The biggest concern that we have these days is that we don’t have enough people in healthcare to do all the jobs that need to be done.
“Autonomous cleaning is a great example but there are probably many other things that you could see robots do in hospitals where you use staff. You can think about bringing laundry through the hospital, or nurses that need to bring beds from point A to point B.
“There are a lot of things that we can ease the staff with so that they can focus on the patients instead of all the other tasks that they need to do.”
Spruijt also touched on whether there has been any hesitation to embrace the technology.
“When people think about robots, they always think it’s scary and think that it will take away jobs. Think about what the benefit might be.
I think the whole COVID thing made sure that people are not afraid of but embrace technology to help them.
Do we see resistance? A year and a half ago everybody was, you know, robots; It doesn’t work for me. But today, it is more going the other way. That is the change that I have seen in the last one and a half years, from people pushing it away to more looking at how can we fit it in our current proposition and how can we maximise it to support our people?
“We need to look at other solutions to make sure that we have enough people to do all the things that we need to do, and robotics is definitely something that can work together with people.
“Even though it’s a robot, you still need people to clean it, to make sure that there’s enough water, that it’s charged and that when it’s stuck, somebody goes to get it moving again.
“So, it will always be a combination of people and robots. The heavy lifting will be done by the robots, with the more focused work being done by humans.”