5 April 2018

Meet CellBert: The MagLab's Mega-Vacuum

CellBert isn't afraid to get a little dirty in his mission to keep our magnet areas clean as a whistle. CellBert isn't afraid to get a little dirty in his mission to keep our magnet areas clean as a whistle. Stephen Bilenky

How do you keep the world's largest magnet lab clean? With a super-sized cyborg, of course! 


Spring is finally here again, and at homes, labs and offices everywhere, that means: spring cleaning!

But cleaning - like most things - at the MagLab probably looks a little different than what happens at your house. After all, the lab is more than 370,000 square feet and is home to dozens of sensitive experimental spaces that house the world's strongest magnets (known as "magnet cells").

Lucky the MagLab’s DC Field Facility hit pay dirt with this special hire, who works tirelessly to keep magnet cells spick and span. Affectionately named “CellBert,” this mega-sized robot vacuum works diligently all year round and practically around the clock to keep the lab neat and orderly. After all, when it comes to science, cleanliness is next to productiveness.

cellbert pov2

CellBert dons a GoPro to demonstrate his zest for cleanliness.
(Image credit: Stephen Bilenky)

Because he’s so low-key (not to mention low to the ground, standing only about 7 inches tall), CellBert’s efforts go unnoticed by many. But his coworkers do have unanimously positive feedback about CellBert's hard work: 

“CellBert leaves my household Roomba in the dust, covering more than twice the square footage. His batteries get drained from time to time, but CellBert keeps calm and collected while regaining his energy — then he jumps right back into work and doesn’t stop until his 5/8 of a gallon dustbin is full."

"I can always count on him to clean an entire magnet cell in 200 minutes or less — talk about a results-driven employee!”

“CellBert moves full speed ahead, regardless of bumps in the road. He doesn’t seem to mind rolling right in and getting his wheels dirty."

“Whether doing stand-alone tasks or completing his normal routine, CellBert never steps out of line. A flash of metallic duct tape is all it takes to let him know where his boundaries are."

“CellBert makes calculated decisions to make sure no corner is left unswept. He’s polished and gentle, but understands the importance of a little elbow grease. Now if only I could take him home and have him clean the dishes…”

“Though some people are known to push his buttons, CellBert handles adverse circumstances with grace. When blindsided by sudden obstacles, he quietly steps back, collects himself, and readjusts his path forward — setting an example we could all stand to follow.”

So, in honor of spring cleaning, we salute CellBert and all of the impressive and professional behaviors that he exhibits while doing his highly important job.

Thanks to Bobby Pullum, CellBert's supervisor, for providing information for this story.