May 11, 2009 Panasonic has shown off its robotic worm that cleans as it inches its way across the floor. Tagged the Fukitorimushi, which roughly translates as “wipe-up bug”, the robotic floor-sweeper is covered in a patented nanocloth – called Nanofront – made up of thousands of polyester filament fibers that can pick up extremely fine dust conventional cleaners leave behind – at least according to its makers.

Developed by Japanese textile company Teijin Fibers, each of the superfine nanofibers is 7500-times thinner than a human hair.

The autonomous Fukitorimushi works the room, looking for dirt. Once it finds some, the blue-white light turns red until the area is clean. When power is low, it finds its own way back to be recharged.

Unveiled at the recent Tokyo Fiber Senseware expo in Milan, the worm-like Fukitorimushi has a kind of pet-like status about it – albeit one that cleans up a mess rather than creates one – that perhaps only the Japanese could love. Any love, however, may be unrequited – the Fukitorimushi remains a prototype, with no announcements, as yet, about a commercial release.

Paul Best

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