Commercial Cleaning Bots on the Rise

Brain Corp., which creates software to power commercial cleaning bots, told Fortune that usage of its bots increased by 24% year over year in April.

There’s a Gilmore Girls episode that opens with the two main characters on the phone, watching their respective robot vacuums:

LORELAI: “Is this more or less fun than watching the same TV show at the same time?”

RORY: “I think more.”

Fifteen years after that ep’s debut, cleaning bots of all shapes and sizes are still adding new features—and on the commercial side, COVID-19 has led to staggering growth since March. Talk about spring cleaning.

Root, root, root for the homebots team

Recently, iRobot unveiled its new “Genius Home Intelligence” platform, including new features that don’t… suck:

  • The ability to set voice command shortcuts (e.g., “Clean around the couch”)
  • If-this-then-that routines like cleaning after you leave (triggered by your home’s smart lock or thermostat)

Caveat: In the first half of 2020, iRobot’s shipments were down ~10% from last year.

Commercial is king

Commercial cleaning bots these days put Mr. Clean to shame, wielding everything from broad-spectrum ultraviolet light to disinfectant fog.

Growth spurt: They’re gaining steam worldwide. The global market size for cleaning robots is projected to reach $6.2 billion in 2025, according to an analysis published in July—up from $2.5 billion in 2018.

  • Sales of Neo, Avidbots’ commercial floor-scrubbing bot, have roughly doubled each year since 2016—but in 2020, demand has spiked 100% between March and August alone, reports the NYT.
  • Brain Corp., which creates software to power commercial cleaning bots, told Fortune that usage of its bots increased by 24% year over year in April.
  • UV-C light disinfection robots—initially developed to sanitize hospitals—are being used in new sectors, like food warehouses. Owing in part to COVID-19, the global market is projected to grow from $171.8 million in 2019 to $1.46 billion in 2027.

Bottom line: It’s safe to say that between the office, the supermarket, and retail stores, we’ll soon cross paths with more of these bots. Expect new homebot updates to roll out in the coming months/years, too, as the consumer segment looks to replicate B2B growth.