Robo-Cleaner Trials Underway In Australia’s Shopping Centres

With technology advancing at its current pace, automation is being seen as one of the next major steps for the future. Numerous fields are now seeking advancements in automation, including accounting, or commercial cleaning in Melbourne. In line with the idea of automation, a major Australian shopping centre chain, Vicinity Centres, have been considering the use of new, automated cleaners in their malls, with initial trials currently ongoing at DFO Homebush in Sydney.

The trial is a first in Australia’s history, with a focus on night-time, post-operation hours cleaning.

The automated cleaning robot is unassuming in its design, standing at 50 centimetres or approximately 1’7″. The robot possesses 11 sensors, granting it a complete 360-degree view of its surroundings, allowing it to operate hands-free; it does its job, cleaning, autonomously, with no supervision.

For those fearing for the employees that will affected, Vicinity administration have stated that, should the trials prove successful, the cleaning contractors currently under the employ of the company would simply be transferred and redeployed, not fired outright. They state that the main point of the new automated cleaning technology is to reinvest their cleaning contractors into locations that would greatly help the shopping centres’ presentation standards and enhance customer experiences.

A professor from the University of Wollongong’s School of Computing and Technology, one Katina Michael, stated that there are potential issues regarding the technology. Firstly, she states that, whilst the robots are clearly a mark of innovation, there are business costs to consider; maintenance, upgrades, etc, which are, of course, important for a business, let alone one as big as Vicinity Centres.

Additionally, she adds that the automation technology is not 100% tested, nor is it 100% fool proof: it can err and malfunction as well, and with their sophistication and role, with some robotic security guards, automated vehicles, etc. being in development, malfunctions with this technology would be disastrous, for lack of a better term.

Finally, she states that mass automation would lead to societal impacts: if robots take over jobs, what will happen to the people employed prior? With many tech experts guessing that automation taking over a lot of jobs, the ramifications it may have on fields across the globe, from security in Silicon Valley to commercial cleaning in Melbourne.