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The days of floor-cleaning drudgery may finally be over. Erwin Prassler and his colleagues at the University of Ulm, Germany, have designed a cleaning robot that moves about in a room without damaging the furniture. As the robot moves, a towel attached to its base runs through a container filled with a cleansing liquid and scrubs the floor. Two computer-controlled motors drive the robot, and a sensor-based navigation system lets the robot find its way around obstacles. The robot weighs less than 10 kilograms and would be suited for homes and restaurants. Prassler is discussing commercialization with a U.S. appliance maker and expects the robocleaner to reach the market in two to three years.

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