Oh crap! There are now robots for cleaning toilets

The autonomous machine can navigate itself inside an office even riding elevators.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The Somatic robot in action.jpg
The Somatic robot in action.


Robots are being used everywhere from serving as waiters to assisting doctors in surgery to helping lawyers out in court. Now, they have come for our bathrooms so to speak and it may be a crappy move!

A report published on Thursday by New Atlas is highlighting a new service by a New York company called Somatic that provides a toilet-cleaning robot assisted by artificial intelligence for $1,000 per month.

An autonomous bot

The service comes with no up-front fees and the cute-looking bot is autonomous. A video released by the company and acquired by New Atlas shows the machine getting to each bathroom location in an office by using elevators and navigating complex office plans, pretty much finding its own way and doing its job without much assistance.

Once in a stall, it proceeds to mop and disinfect and even vacuum. Is there anything this little guy can’t do?

Actually there is. For unusual spills or hard to understand messes it simply sends a picture to whoever is responsible for overseeing it and presumably calls for a janitor to handle them.

This is a relief to know that it cannot completely replace janitorial staff. In essence, it’s simply helping the hard workers although it is fairly certain that it will replace some janitorial workers as less employees will be needed to do the job.

You might be wondering: how does it know where to go and what to do?

New Atlas quoted a 2020 Techcrunch video that said that the company maps out the office plan before sending the robot and even has someone virtually do all the tasks that the robot will undertake remotely.

The same tasks undertaken over and over

Once this process has been put into place the robot just needs to undertake the same tasks over and over again. Since it is not responsible for any unforeseen or major spills it can proceed with its routine on a daily basis.

New Atlas calculated that the robot who works for 40 hours a week amounts to hiring someone for $5.68 an hour which is far less than minimum wage.

The robot causes mixed feelings. From one perspective, it can be helpful and relieve janitorial staff of their heavy daily burdens. From another perspective, janitorial work is often done by people with little education and prospects and replacing their work is not a good thing.

Although efficient at what they do, they may struggle to transfer their skills and find other jobs. However, one thing is for sure, you can’t stop progress.

As the robot is cost saving and time saving, it will certainly be adopted by companies far and large. This is a situation where robotics might be served by regulations that force companies to reskill their workers if their jobs are lost.

Wouldn’t it be nice if any time a robot was introduced, the workers it replaced would get new free training in a similar profession? As more and more robots enter the workforce this may be an option worth considering.