A couple months ago, the entire internet got really excited about something called the Panasonic Fukitorimushi floor-cleaning inchworm robot. A bunch of people declared it would be the end of the Roomba. The video and photos in this post are pretty much all that was released. Since then, there hasn’t been anything. I’m thinking it was a concept model. It all appeared to have started from the Tokyo Fiber Senseware 2009 Expo in Milan, Italy. Then a couple of sites picked up the news, and then before you know it, the internet decided this was a real robot vacuum.
The word Fukitorimushi translates to “wipe-up bug.” The robot itself was shown crawling around the room like an inchworm. To clean, the robot was covered in super-absorbent nanofiber cloth developed by Nanofront. The robot itself was designed by Panasonic. If you read the press release from the Expo site, it states that “Part of the robot’s behavior is simulated.” If you take a close look at the robot cleaners in the video below, you’ll notice that they are moving as if they are on wheels and that they aren’t really inching around like inchworms. Particularly the one in the corner looks stuck. Check it out.
There are a lot of extra details on Pink Tentacle, like for instance that the final robot would use a light to scan for dirty areas and would also auto-dock to its charger when its batteries run low (like the Roomba does).
Like many Japanese robots, the Fukitorimushi were also supposed to be more sort of “pet-like” than other robot vacuums. I guess I can see that, considering it looks sort of like a pillow inchworm, and the owner will also need to take care of it in certain ways (such as changing its cover every once in a while).
I say it’s going to end up being vaporware. Sorry everybody!