Will car washes soon be run by robots?

When starting a car wash, one of the primary questions is usually ‘do we go for manned or unmanned?’ The more automatic machines, the fewer staff you’ll need. What if you go all the way, and replace the remaining crew for robots. Would that be an option? Swiss company PREEN seems to think so.

Numerous large car wash and tech companies the world over are investigating washing cars with robots. This includes Switzerland’s PREEN. In close cooperation with universities and industry experts, PREEN has been working for the last couple of years on a ‘car wash of the future’.

This means a car wash in which robots work contactlessly and deliver the best washing results under high pressure, without personnel. High-tech engineering, laboratory analysis and the capabilities now available in artificial intelligence, computing power and software are the basis for this new car wash revolution, PREEN thinks.

“Do you really think that in five years cars will still be washed by humans and today’s machines?” asks Marc Zingg, Managing Director of PREEN. “The future of car washing starts now.” He is convinced it will revolutionize the car wash market. “The core of the innovation is the use of robots that wash cars completely independently. And in free minutes or at night clean the car wash and themselves.”

Inspired by Apple

If it is up to PREEN, this ‘carwash of the future’ will look very different. “Clear lines, smooth surfaces, simple Apple-style design, and all without any machine feel”. There are no brushes running along and over the car. Robots take over the job and do it in an entirely unique way.

The first step is a contour-accurate scan of the car, which is accomplished within seconds. This means that the washing robot can also be used for vehicles with bodies, attachments and sensitive vehicle parts, because the robot recognizes them – just as a human would. See a demonstration video here.

Espresso cup

“The software we developed for scanning and wash planning is certainly our greatest masterpiece, but it only becomes a good product together with the effective and fast cleaning. In addition to very short turnaround times, our goal is to offer the most sustainable solution possible, especially in terms of water and energy consumption”, explains Frank Steinmeier, CTO of PREEN. For example, only environmentally friendly cleaning agents are used that are fully biodegradable and can be dosed sparingly. Less than an espresso cup of detergent will be needed per vehicle.

PREEN has taken inspiration in terms of sustainable design from companies such as Apple and Tesla. “Such companies open up completely new possibilities, like with the iPhone, or like Tesla, which has initiated the electrification of mobility,” Marc Zingg explains. “We have discovered so many more environmentally friendly solutions and improvements that we have an obligation to bring them to the world. It is high time,” agrees Frank Steinmeier.

Exciting car wash experience

Harry Sykes, founder and shareholder of PREEN, adds: “The software algorithms we specially developed enable us to offer a completely new and exciting (robotic) carwash experience. Artificial intelligence, computer vision and object digitization make up the new PREEN car wash, resulting in good wash results, high wash speeds and environmentally friendly washes. In addition, the PREEN wash is contactless, which means no car paint is touched, so no micro-scratches either.”

That leaves one important question: how quickly has a PREEN wash “washed back” the purchase cost? Marc Zingg says: “For the cost calculation, we did intensive market research to determine all the current costs of purchasing and operating a car wash with a comparable number of car washes. The purchase cost of a washing robot is not comparable to that of a car wash portal, but the integrated maintenance and care of the system, the long service life of all technical components and the higher performance, especially at peak times, give the PREEN car wash a clear advantage.”

The PREEN team will officially launch its robotic car wash at the Car Wash Show Europe, on September 21 and 22 at booth number 2.12.03. 

Curious about the other innovations and exhibitors at the show? Check it out here and register for free!


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