A restroom cleaning robot that looks like  a minifridge with an arm attached to its front

A New York-based startup wants to free janitorial workers from one of the most loathed tasks in all of professional cleaning services using a nifty-looking autonomous robot with virtual reality technology.

Somatic showed off the robot — which its CEO and Co-Founder Michael Level compares to “a mini fridge with a robot arm attach to the front” — at a robotic and artificial intelligence event at University of California, Berkeley.

Level drew inspiration for creating the restroom cleaning robot from years of experience working in his grandfather's restaurant, reports Tech Crunch, which helped hold the technology event. In order to work his way up to a position at the restaurant’s register, Level had to start cleaning its restrooms first.

All commercial restrooms built after 1994 are supposed to be crafted in ADA compliance, and are therefore a perfect fit for high-tech cleaning robots because most fixtures inside of them are bolted down in a permanent fashion, says Level. Since the layout of the restroom will remain the same, Somatic only has to do one remote setup using VR simulation in which staff show the robot where to clean, disinfect, vacuum and blow-dry. After the trial run, the robot depends on LiDAR and other space-sensing technology to operate within the restroom. 

The robot is also able to refill the chemicals it needs without assistance, open doors for itself and can clean up to eight hours a day.

Somatic hopes to lease out the robot to airports, casinos, office spaces and other facilities with large commercial restrooms for about $1,000 a month during its trial phase.