When robots helped hospitals clean up safely during the pandemic
For Rajeev Karwal, building effective solutions for safe and easy cleaning, that would minimise human intervention, was the thought that spurred the formation of Milagrow Business and Knowledge Solutions in 2007. This company soon forayed into AI Robotics in 2011 and after lots of research and technology interventions, their robots were born!
Today, Milagrow has numerous firsts to its credit in the field of Service and Commercial Robots. It has robots for facility management, hospitality, education, healthcare, retail as well banking. On Prime Day, they launched the world's first Robotic Vacuum Cleaner with High Pressure Floor Mopping and Self-Cleaning Technology was launched. We speak to Rajeev Karwal, the man behind the mission to make cleaning easy and safe.
Cleaning robots – what was the main reason that inspired you to work on these products? What were the challenges, failures and the wins?
Building effective solutions for safe and easy cleaning, that would minimise human intervention was always on my mind. Especially, in cases where these jobs are not safe for humans. Robots can do those tasks easily, efficiently, effectively and safely.
We started in 2011 and we have been continuously evolving our product range. Our earlier robots could do only about 35% to 40% of a home independently. We decided to use the same technology, which is used in the unmanned cars in home or corporate environments, We invested in developing our proprietary software called the Real Time Terrain Recognition technology. I am glad to say that the today our robots do almost 95% of an average home completely independently.
You are launching Milagrow iMap Max – an innovative one-of-its-kind wet mopping and vacuuming robot. Tell us a little more about this...
Yes, this is the first robot which cleans its own mops after every few sq feet of area (which you can set). It also has 2 other unique features one is that it applies a 10 N pressure while wet mopping the floors and the other is that it has a snail brush system which allows the side brush to come out while cleaning. The Real Time Terrain Recognition technology combined with pressure mopping of floor and then self-cleaning of mops is a world first and we are sure that the Indian market would benefit tremendously from the same. It is very useful for cleaning corners. We feel extremely delighted to be launching this product on Amazon on the Prime Day.
With regard to Prime Day in particular and online selling in general – how do you see the growth of your business?
We expect our business this year to grow by a 1000%. Prime Day will be a big boost to us. In the first four months of this financial year we have seen growth of over 300% despite the lock-down and other supply chain constraints. We are launching 3 new models for floor cleaning robots, 2 models of humanoids, 1 model of a back massaging robot and one pool cleaning robot on Prime Day. We are very hopeful that we should be able to do about INR 10 million in these 2 days.
Building world-class products right here from India – how do you think your product/company is contributing to this? What mechanisms, tenets do you have in place to ensure that made in India becomes a symbol of high quality too, and not just pride?
It is a great question. Our previous model iMap 9 was launched in Sept last year with 1 year warranty. After 9 months we extended the warranty to even the existing customers by another year and gave 5 year warranty on most crucial part, the suction motor. That confidence came from our zero defect performance and philosophy which all our models have. Today all our models come with 5 year warranty on suction motor and 2 years on the robot, be it an INR 20,000 product or the INR 1 lakh product. Quality is an essential pre-requirement for taking pride.
The robots must have been a boon during the pandemic for numerous health workers and hospitals. Any particular feedback that you remember that makes all this R&D worth it? Can these robots be used to end manual scavenging once and for all?
We were really humbled to contribute the effort of AIIMS doctors and their safety with our humanoids and floor cleaning robots. Since then many hospitals have taken up our robots. The 3 ‘White Robo-Knights’ are especially launched keeping in mind the emerging situation in homes, offices, hospitals, hotels etc due to the pandemic. The need of hygiene and disinfection is greater than ever before. Eradicating manual scavenging completely by robots is the ultimate dream but it’s possible in the next 10 years. We shall work towards it.