March 21, 2024

Robotic Floor Scrubbers: Everything You Need to Know

Cobi 18 Robotic Floor Scrubber by ICE Cobotics Office Cleaning

What is a Robotic Floor Scrubber? 

Robotic floor scrubbers, also referred to as autonomous floor scrubbers, are autonomous floor cleaning machines designed to clean hard floor surfaces in commercial spaces. 

These machines follow specific routes and effectively manage the floor cleaning task. This minimizes the need for human intervention and optimizes cleaning productivity.  

Many of the models currently on the market are considered Cobots (collaborative robots) because while they can clean on their own, they need human support to maintain them.  

Cobots are designed to support staff by taking on repetitive and mundane work so staff members can focus on other high-value tasks.  

According to research done by Straits Research, the global autonomous floor scrubber market “was valued at USD 923.19 million in 2022.” The market is estimated to reach “USD 2,217.52 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 11.34%” from 2023 through 2031. 

Due to persistent labor challenges across industries and the time-consuming and strenuous nature of floor cleaning, many segments are turning to robotic floor cleaning equipment to aid in the important work of cleaning.  

What is the Difference Between a Robotic Floor Scrubber and an Auto Scrubber? 

Auto scrubbers are quite common in the cleaning industry and are machine-powered floor-scrubbing machines that inject water with cleaning solution onto the floor and then use a brush to scrub the floor clean. These machines come in a variety of sizes and styles including walk-behind and ride-on.  

Auto scrubbers come in both battery and electric power models and make floor cleaning easier and faster than using a mop. These machines require a human to push or ride on the machine during operation to complete the cleaning task.   

Robotic floor scrubbers on the other hand are powered by batteries and use AI (Artificial Intelligence) and advanced navigation systems to clean the floors autonomously. They do not require a human to push or ride on the machine.   

The cleaning system works similarly to an auto-scrubber in that water or solution is sprayed onto the floor while a main brush and side brushes agitate and scrub the floors clean, followed by a squeegee system to help suck up and remove water from the floor.  

Do Robotic Floor Scrubbers Work? 

Yes, robotic floor scrubbers can effectively and efficiently clean floors. The machines are designed similarly to auto scrubbers with down-pressure systems built into the unit.  

The down pressure system allows the brushes to effectively clean different hard floor surfaces, even getting into grout lines. 

While not all robotic floor scrubbers on the market are built or designed the same, most include similar consumable parts including a hopper tray to collect dirt and debris from floors, squeegees to help suction up the water, and side brushes to extend cleaning reach beyond the perimeter of the machine, allowing them to clean right next to a wall in some cases.  

Cobi 18 robotic floor scrubber squeegee

When compared to mopping, robotic floor scrubbers are more effective. Some ATP testing shows that robotic floor scrubbers leave floors 50%-75% cleaner compared to mopping, effectively removing dirt and grime from floors.  

Using the mop and bucket method is not a sanitary way to clean floors. Typically, the water in the bucket becomes dirty almost immediately and is then reused, spreading the dirt and bacteria back onto the floor.  

With a robotic floor scrubber, the clean water is kept separate from the dirty water so only clean water is used on the floor.  

Here is an article that explains why using a robotic floor scrubber is more effective than using a mop.  

How Does a Robotic Floor Scrubber Work? 

Robotic floor scrubbers utilize a system of artificial intelligence (AI) and a highly sophisticated system of cameras and sensors that work together for obstacle recognition capabilities. 

The navigation systems can include Lidar sensors, Ultrasonic Sensors, and 2D, 3D, and Binocular cameras. 

These navigation systems detect objects in their path, both moving and stationary, allowing the robot to seamlessly move through complex and dynamic environments.   

Some models of robotic floor scrubbers on the market today are able to move between floors of a building.  

The Gausium Phantas for example can be connected to a building’s smart system through API and other IOT communication systems. This allows it to connect to a building’s elevator system so it can alert the elevator that it needs to travel between floors. Gausium does note that this capability depends on the elevator operation system.  

How to Deploy a Robotic Floor Scrubber 

Deploying robotic floor scrubbers can vary based on the model and manufacturer.  

In most cases, the units offer a variety of route mapping options. These options allow users to decide how they would like to create routes depending on the environment and the situation. 

For example, one method includes a human operator pushing the robot on the desired cleaning path from start to finish. This is beneficial in facilities that have more complex floor plans like retail stores, where there are aisles and floor displays that the unit will need to navigate around.  

Another method includes the human operator pushing the robot only around the perimeter of the desired space to be cleaned. Once the perimeter has been mapped, the robot will finish mapping the interior portion of the space on its own.  

This option is beneficial in facilities that have larger open spaces. This saves cleaning crews time during the mapping process.  

Most of the robotics scrubbers on the market can also be used in manual mode. This is when a human operator can push the scrubber for spot or spill cleaning.  

Additionally, some models, like R3 Scrub Pro by Lionsbot, have the capability for the user to alter the cleaning route right from an app. In general, once the routes are mapped, the robot saves the routes for future use.  

Some models of robot floor scrubbers save the routes using location codes (similar to QR codes). These are placed around a building and remain on the wall serving as a start and end point for the robot. When a staff member is ready to deploy the unit, they simply power the robot on, scan the location code, select the route they wish to clean, and tap start. The robot then follows the mapped path and scrubs the floors on its own.  

Cobi 18 autonomous floor scrubber HLC

Where to Use a Robotic Floor Scrubber 

Depending on the robotic floor scrubber's size, they can be used in various facilities to clean hard floor surfaces such as tile, vinyl, ceramic, hardwood, laminate, and more.  

Robotic floor scrubbers work best in open spaces, where the floor plan remains the same but due to their advanced technology, they can handle dynamic and complex environments as well. 

Many industries have already embraced robotic floor cleaning technology and are using the equipment to augment labor and support staff.  

Here is an example of a convenience store that is having remarkable success with robotic floor scrubbers.  

When to Use a Robotic Floor Scrubber 

Theoretically, robotic floor scrubbers can be used at any time of day. Depending on the type of facility they are being used in, it may be better to utilize the machines during non-peak hours.  

For example, some higher education facilities that use robotic floor scrubbers deploy them early in the morning or in the evening, when there are fewer students and staff on campus.  

Additionally, some models come with timers and can be scheduled to start cleaning during “off” hours or overnight. This can be a great way to increase cleaning while most people are not in a building.  

How Much Do Robotic Floor Scrubbers Cost? 

The cost of robotic floor scrubbers varies based on the size of the machine and the manufacturer, but the estimated range is between $17K to nearly $100K. 

The benefit of autonomous technology is that over time it can save the user money by freeing up staff to focus on other important tasks, instead of paying for hourly labor to push or walk behind a machine. Floor cleaning is time-consuming and being able to offload the task to a machine can impact the bottom line for a company. 

Additionally, some robotic scrubbers on the market are made available through a subscription service. ICE Cobotics for example, offers Cobi 18 through an all-inclusive subscription that includes service, parts, consumables, and regular software updates.  

The thinking behind this is that it saves end-users from worrying about servicing the machine, paying high costs for parts and consumables, and from technology obsolescence.   

With how quickly AI and technology advance, the financial burden of buying a machine to only have a new updated version come out the next day, can be draining. By using a subscription, machine updates are included in the price, and at the end of the subscription, the end-user can start fresh with a new machine.  

How to Maintain Robotic Floor Scrubbers 

Maintaining robotic floor scrubbers is incredibly important to their overall efficiency and efficacy. While the machines do operate on their own, they are not able to clean themselves, making it important for users to keep up with the daily and weekly maintenance.  

Daily maintenance includes cleaning out and rinsing all consumable parts such as the squeegee, hopper, main brush, and side brushes.  

Weekly maintenance includes all the above steps plus wiping down areas under and around brushes and all sensors on the machine. Additionally, cleaning out any filters on the machine will help ensure water flow remains consistent.  

Cobi 18, robotic floor scrubber, under going daily maintenance by convenience store worker

Do Robotic Floor Scrubbers Come with Docking Stations?  

Docking stations are available with some models of robotic floor scrubbers. A docking station is a mechanical unit plugged or built into a facility's wall.  

Docking stations can do a variety of things but basically, it is the place the robot returns to charge, empty water, or refill clean water.  

Different manufacturers provide different options and there are pros and cons to each. While a docking station can increase the hands-off time of working with a robot, the downfall is that the machine can be neglected, resulting in damage to the robot.  

Another downside to docking stations is that depending on the style, it could require a facility to remodel or change the structure of the building and this can be a costly added expense.  

Floor scrubbers without docking stations typically plug right into a normal outlet and can be moved around a facility if necessary.  

What Safety Devices Are in Robotic Floor Scrubbers?  

Due to the unique nature of autonomous floor scrubbers, they are designed with many safety features. Many of the styles on the market today have blinking lights that notify people of the robot’s path and direction it intends to move.  

They are also equipped with noise indicators that signal when they detect an obstacle like a human. This is meant to alert people that the robot is near them.  

The machines also come with emergency stop buttons, should the robot need to be deactivated quickly.  

How Does a Robotic Floor Scrubber Impact Staff?  

One of the biggest benefits of adopting autonomous floor cleaning technology is that it frees up staff from the repetitive and mundane work of floor cleaning.  

Floors are the largest horizontal and high-touch surfaces in buildings; therefore, they hold a lot of dirt, dust, debris, soil, bacteria…you name it.  

This also makes floor cleaning a labor-intensive and time-consuming task. It can be physically taxing on the body (if your team is mopping), and it can eat up a sizable portion of payroll hours. Over time, staff members can become bored with the work or even develop RSI (repetitive stress injuries).  

However, floor cleaning is a necessary and important task to complete regularly. Here is an article that explains just how important clean floors are to health and well-being. Plus, being able to redirect your staff to focus on other tasks is a great way to increase productivity.  

While the robot cleans the floors, your staff can focus on other tasks like restrooms, wiping down high-touch surfaces, dusting, glass/windows, sanitizing and disinfecting, stocking the floor, and focusing on customers.  


Cobi, robotic floor scrubber, frees up retail store staff to focus on other critical cleaning tasks

Can I Track Cleaning Data While Using a Robotic Floor Scrubber? 

Tracking data can be extremely helpful to end-users trying to improve cleaning processes and operational excellence. Some robotic floor scrubbers come with fleet management software that tracks cleaning data. This will depend on the unit and the manufacturer in terms of what is offered.  

 Those that do collect cleaning data often make it available in near real-time for the end user through an app or online portal. The cleaning data collected can include days and times a machine runs, how long it runs for, and how many square feet it cleans.  

 Some fleet management systems also show the routes the machine cleans and can send notifications to end-users. These may include when a recovery tank is full and needs to be emptied or when a battery needs to be charged.  

By tracking this information, end-users can determine the best types of routes to use in their specific space and start to improve cleaning processes across their facilities.  

Cobi 18, robotic scrubber,  & i-SYNERGY data tracking  (fleet management software) being reviewed by store manager

What Are the Benefits of Using a Robotic Floor Scrubber? 

Many benefits come from using robotic floor scrubbers, here is a list of the top ones. 

Free Up Staff: Using robotic floor scrubbers frees up staff to focus on other critical and high-value tasks. For a facilities manager, this could mean their staff has more time to make sure bathrooms are clean and sanitized or that windows and glass are clear of smudges and dirt.  

For a retail store, freeing up staff could mean improving customer service and bettering the store's offerings to help gain more repeat customers. No matter the facility, cleaning teams are usually short-staffed and pressed for time, so adding a robotic floor scrubber is a great way to ensure your facility is consistently clean and your customers are satisfied.  

Augment Labor: As noted above, many industries are facing labor challenges. From being short-staffed to dealing with high turnover, labor challenges are very real and can negatively impact a business.  

By adopting robotic floor scrubbers, end users can help ensure that critical cleaning tasks still get done even when facing labor challenges. This is because robotic floor scrubbers can be deployed by anyone or even from an app, making it easy for staff on-site to complete cleaning while focusing on other critical tasks.  

Consistent & Efficient Cleaning: One of the many great benefits of robotic floor scrubber technology is that it learns the cleaning routes and then sticks to them, meaning it does not veer off the path and miss spots, making the cleaning efficient. If the robot must veer off course due to an obstacle, it will return to that spot as long as the obstacle has moved. Plus, since they can be deployed multiple times throughout the day, cleaning becomes more consistent, and floors become cleaner.  


As the robotic floor scrubber market continues to grow, the technology will only get smarter and more efficient, making these machines a powerful addition to any team.  

 ICE Cobotics is a leading floor cleaning technology and equipment company specializing in autonomous solutions available through an all-inclusive subscription. If you’re in the market for robotic floor scrubbers, we can help. Reach out to our automation specialists to answer your questions.  

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