One of Australia's big shopping centre chains is considering introducing robotic cleaners, with trials underway at DFO Homebush in Sydney.

The Vicinity Centres trial is an Australian first, focused on "automated night cleaning".

The chunky robot, which is roughly 50 centimetres tall, is a hands-free system with 11 sensors, giving the robot a 360-degree view which allows it to "operate and clean autonomously".

In a statement, Vicinity Centres insisted that if the trial was successful, cleaning contractors would be redeployed rather than dismissed.

"The focus of incorporating this kind of smart cleaning technology into our centres is to reinvest and redeploy our cleaning contractors into areas that vastly improve our presentation standards and our customer experiences," it said.

Vicinity Centres has more that 80 shopping centres throughout Australia.

At what cost?

But Professor Katina Michael from the University of Wollongong's School of Computing and Information Technology told ABC Radio Melbourne that she had some reservations about the new technology.

"I think they're very good in terms of the innovation side and what they're potentially able to do in replacement of a human," she said.

"However, I would say there are a lot of things that people aren't thinking about regarding upgrades, maintenance ... there are other real costs that people aren't thinking about."

Chuck E. Cheese's and Peter Piper Pizza has agreed to employ Kids Play Safe's cleaning practices, according to an article on the Arizona Republic website. Kids Play Safe was founded by a Chandler, Ariz., mom, Erin Carr-Jordan, who was banned from McDonald’s after highlighting life-threatening pathogens in restaurant play areas.

Carr-Jordan recently announced the partnership between her organization and the chain restaurants.

To earn a Kids Play Safe certification, restaurants must:

• Clean the kids play area every eight-hour shift, although Chuck E. Cheese's has agreed to an hourly wipe down of play machines
• Use an eco-friendly product when cleaning throughout the business
• Maintain the safety of the equipment kids use.

Carr-Jordan said the certification provides parents “an extra level of comfort” when turning their kids loose to play.

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Kids Play Safe Announces Partnership with Chuck E. Cheese's

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