Patent Monkey: P&G Considers, Drops Robotic Cleaner

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A fact about innovation is that ideas that are tried fail much more often than they succeed. Frequently, a team can shut down a dead project long before anyone in the market knows it was even attempted. In the case of companies like P&G that patent protect concepts as they are being market tested, some cleaning up becomes necessary after the fact.

Recently while satisfying an urge to know what P&G patented on Swiffer [what I found is here], I discovered a robotic cleaning device patent that P&G abandoned recently.

Yep, one of the images suggests that the P&G development team was considering a robotic cleaning mouse. It never saw the market, the patent is being killed, enough said.

Here’s a bit of detail in the form of a claim if you want to see what P&G let go:

1. An autonomously, movable home cleaning robot comprising: a) a platform;
b) a motive force attached to said platform, said motive force to autonomously move said platform on a substantially horizontal surface having boundaries;
c) a computer processing unit for storing, receiving and transmitting data, said computer processing unit attached to said platform;
d) a cleaning implement operatively associated with said platform; and
e) a power source connected to said motive force and said computer processing unit, whereby said computer processing unit directs horizontal movement of said platform within the boundaries of the horizontal surface based upon input data defining said boundaries, said input data being input to said robot by physical manipulation of said robot or by remote control.

Coincidentally, I watched this remote control WiiMote-iRobot robotic vac video with mild interest mostly because the project was done as a bit of fun for the programmer. Well, at least one patent for a remote controlled robotic vac is turning open source thanks to P&G.

P&G does still hold two other patents on robotic technology: US 6941199 and US 6810305 which have fees coming due in the next two years.

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