Automatic Home Floor Cleaner Robot

Automatic Home Floor Cleaner Robot

Felix Gerald Masomera (Contilight Creative, Zimbabwe), Confidence Z. Gweera (Chinhoyi University, Zimbabwe) and John Batani (Botho University, Lesotho)
DOI: 10.4018/IJECME.2020070101
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Abstract

Due to the presence of semi-automated home floor cleaner systems that are unable to do both mopping and draining of water on floor surfaces, this research investigates the challenges being faced by the elderly and the differently-abled people in using these cleaner systems and develops a robot that can effectively clean floor edges and corners. In attaining an automatic home floor cleaner robot, this research utilizes the vector field histogram (VFH) and path planning algorithms to realize automatic obstacle detection, edge detection, and moderate floor coverage when mopping. The effectiveness of algorithms depends on floor edges, floor corners, and water presence on the floor. The results enjoy the satisfaction of the elderly, the differently abled, and other individuals who are too busy to do the work since they no longer have to intervene in the cleaning process except to just power on the cleaner robot. However, the robot requires continuous charging of the battery, and it does not work on carpeted floors.
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1. Introduction

Nowadays, most people have become busier with work and other activities such that they have little to no time to look after the elderly and the differently abled people with whom they live. Consequently, many countries are recruiting people to provide home-based care and domestic work for the frail, differently abled and the elderly; and recruited people may have to work for very long hours (Shah, 2017). For those who may not afford to employ caretakers, the elderly and differently abled end up doing the tasks themselves, including vacuuming, changing bed linen, cleaning dishes, washing clothes, cleaning toilets, and removing refuse(Smarr, Fausset and Rogers, 2010); all of which require energy, bending, endurance and balance. In the United States of America for instance, approximately 60 out of every 100 of the elderly caregivers are working, resulting in outsourcing of caregiving to non-family members to assist them with such activities as sweeping, washing, cleaning, and mopping, among other tasks (Bookman and Kimbrel, 2011).

However, besides being expensive in the long run, the outsourcing of staff to provide care is associated with challenges emanating from different cultural, economic, ethnical and social backgrounds (Bookman and Kimbrel, 2011). It is therefore imperative to design a solution that eliminates the need to outsource caregiving services by designing an autonomous, cost-effective cleaning robot. However, developing an autonomous mobile robot that can independently navigate in almost an infinite range of highly unstructured environments such as homes continues being challenge, and has been a dominant consideration (Hargadine, 2017). Shaw and Francisco (2014) add that most robot cleaners have their cleaning mechanisms at the footprint therefore if the robot is being driven along a wall, it will still fail to clean the better part of gaps between the cleaning mechanisms and the wall thus making it inefficient.

1.1. Problem Statement

The elderly, infirm, and the differently abled are finding it difficult to use the current floor cleaning systems since most of the systems are not fully automated, thus requiring more human intervention to drive them around the floor which requires strength, bending, balance and endurance(Smarr, Fausset and Rogers, 2010). In addition the current inventions are limited in functionality in the case that they cannot mop and dry floors whilst getting rid of dirty water on floor surfaces which makes them inefficient for the task (Shaw and Francisco, 2014), especially if such systems are to be used by the elderly and the differently abled who. This calls for the development of a fully automated floor cleaner system that can both mop and dry floors, hence eliminating the need for the targeted users to use more energy in cleaning houses.

1.2. Aim

To develop a fully autonomous self-powered and self-directed robot cleaner system which is able to mop, dry floors, and drain spilled water from floor surfaces.

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Automatic home floor cleaners have been researched by many researchers with the intention of improving their efficiency and mobility. Most of the researchers made use of the Vector Field Histogram (VFH) algorithm which is basically used by the Ultrasonic Sensors to enable cleaner robot systems to avoid unexpected obstacles. The algorithm also enables the generation of alternative options for an altered path in the event of an unexpected object in the current path of the cleaner system (Sawalski et al., 2010). In reviewing previous works, we have classified the previous cleaner robots into two classes namely water delivering and non-water delivering. We review literature on each of these two classes in the following sections.

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