Train cleaning robot design

UK: A robot designed to clean hard-to-reach areas between and underneath train seats is being developed by the National Robotarium research centre, which has unveiled the design ahead of laboratory and real-world trials with a prototype in 2022.

The National Robotarium is supported by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, and the train cleaning robot project is being funded by RSSB. Researchers have spent two years working on the design, with input from train presentation staff at Greater Anglia and West Midlands Trains. 

The robot is intended complement human cleaners by being able to reach floor areas where unpleasant and potentially hazardous waste is most likely to be found, freeing staff to focus on tasks such as disinfecting surfaces, cleaning the seats and removing dirt, fluid and food waste.

Project lead Dr Mustafa Suphi Erden said manual cleaning underneath seats requires a significant amount of time as waste items are collected one-by-one, and the reaching required can lead to health problems.

The robot has been designed to work autonomously in the very constrained environment, and travel between coaches and over uneven surfaces. It will be able to grasp, collect and store newspapers and cups, which Erden said are ‘the most frequent and problematic waste items on trains’.