More Robotic Innovation in the Cleaning Field Might Mean Trouble for Maids

Electric cars. Handheld personal communication devices. Robotic vacuum cleaners. Though we might not be as close to The Jetsons as past generations thought we’d be, we’re certainly getting there.

That’s according to a tech feature in a recent edition of The New York Times, which reported on a number of new innovations poised to take shape in the world of robotic cleaning. Everyone knows about the Roomba, and indeed by now it’s effectively become a household name. In fact, one Slate article posits that over 80% of Roomba users have cozied up to their subservient robot cleaning machines, even going so far as to give them names and treat them like pets.

You know the Roomba, but chances are you haven’t yet heard of Grillbot, which does for grills what Roombas did for your kitchen and living room floors. Developed by a former New York real estate salesman, Grillbot comes in four colors and utilizes its three independent motors to clean the surface of a grill in under 30 minutes. Plus, it even comes standard with a temperature gauge that will sound an alarm when the grill’s heat becomes too hot for a desired cook.

So now you have your interior and your exterior cooking spots covered for cleaning, so what’s left? Well, for one thing, there’s always the matter of glass surfaces to be attended to. The RoboSnail can help keep glass aquarium walls tidy, while the WinBot and Windero devices use sensors and cleaning sprays to eliminate streaks and specks of dirt from your windows and glass doors. Couple all that with continued innovation in the fields of regular automated vacuums and you have vast commercial world of household cleaning devices that do the actual dirty work for you.

But what does this mean for the real human workers who make their bread and butter from cleaning up other people’s messes? What’s to become of maids and floor scrubbers across the country?

Numbers from 2012 indicate that the maid industry is secure, accounting for over 1.3 million jobs in the United States at an annual salary of about $20,000. It’s not a great gig, but it works. The question, of course, is how much longer will it work? For the next decade, job growth is projected to be around 13% for maids and other home cleaners, which is reportedly as fast as the average.

Whether Roombas, WinBots and other advanced robotic cleaning mechanisms will really cause the humans in the field to take a job dive remains to be seen. But rest assured — we’re still a long way from Rosie the Robot, no matter how much the world of The Jetsons begins to mirror our own.

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