Project Summary

Through the Social Transformation Fellowship, our team was hoping to make progress on our existing idea of an autonomous robot designed to eliminate water waste when pressure washing large, flat areas. Specifically, we wanted to conduct stakeholder research to determine our target audience; to establish and delegate individual responsibilities within the team; and to gain access to university resources to further our project momentum.

By the culmination of the course, we accomplished most of our initial goals. Namely, we completed a thorough stakeholder analysis and secured funding, an improved network, and knowledge of university services by the time we completed the Fellowship mini-course. Since the course, we have had to adjust both our project timeline and individual responsibilities; however, we still consider our progress to be successful.

Our Research Process

To initiate our project — then validate that there is a real problem to solve — we took these steps:

  1. Noticed water waste in pressure washing (observed problem in unmanipulated setting)
  2. Basic internet searches about pressure washing products, industry, and figures
  3. Built prototype robot as proof-of-concept for potential solution
  4. Conducted interviews among homeowners, business owners, and pressure washing crews
  5. Analyzed interview data for trends that allowed us to identify best target stakeholders
  6. Formed relationships with specific pressure washing companies for beta testing plan

Along the way, we pivoted from targeting homeowners to medium pressure washing companies. The decision was made when our interview data revealed that companies have a higher use frequency and willingness to pay for a robotic solution. In other words, our venture would be self-sustaining and have higher water savings when tailored to pressure washing companies.

Impact of Project

We are still in the process of building our beta test model to ship to our industry partners later this year. However, from prototype testing, we found that our robot saves roughly 10.2 gallons of water for every 500 square feet of pavement washed. On the scale of what our target customers would be cleaning, this estimate would reach over 6 bathtubs worth of water per crew, per day. Seeing that water is already a valuable and increasingly scarce resource, it is imperative that we continue this project to eliminate unnecessary water waste in the growing industry of pressure washing.

Plans Moving Forward

We are currently in the midst of research and development. We have partnered with a well-established commercial pressure washing company for beta testing, which provides us direct and honest product feedback throughout the prototype and iteration process. Our next steps are to continue with research and development. We plan to send a beta test model to our partner company once an industry-grade prototype is reliable and safe enough to operate fully autonomously.

Spending History

After we were awarded $15000 to execute this project, we transferred all funds to an LLC bank account. Most of the money still remains in the account; there is a current balance of $14,861.25 because $138.75 was spent to renew the LLC and file its existence for the 2024 financial year.

We are waiting to spend the money until we are certain of the components that we need for our robot. We will arrive at that certainty in the next three months and place our part orders at that time according to the budget plan we submitted at the end of the Fellowship course.

Final Reflections

As a team, we really enjoyed the ALA mini course and are incredibly grateful for the support we received in this program. One thing we realized soon after the mini course ended was that executing a project of this complexity will take more time than we first thought. It is important to be careful with our budget, so we are being sure to wait until we know the parts we need before spending it. We are excited to continue with this project; thank you so much for everything!