Nike Sneaker-Cleaning Robot Looks Like a Car Wash for Shoes

Say hello to the Bot Initiated Longevity Lab, or BILL, that's stepping up to deep-clean your kicks.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
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Leslie Katz
2 min read
Nike's B.I.LL. robot for cleaning sneakers make a human look small

A humble human looks tiny next to Big BILL the sneaker-cleaning robot. 


If you use a damp cloth and soap to clean your dirty sneakers, you're stuck in 2021. Meet BILL (Bot Initiated Longevity Lab), Nike's new robot-powered system for cleaning and repairing kicks. 

At first glance, Big BILL looks like the ultimate Rube Goldberg machine (a contraption intentionally designed to complicate a simple task). Nike, however, insists BILL not only cleans shoes, but deep cleans and fixes them, extending their life and contributing to the company's efforts to produce gear that can be remade and reused. 

Nike's BILL machine applies a patch to a sneaker
Enlarge Image
Nike's BILL machine applies a patch to a sneaker

Patch me up, BILL. 


BILL steps onto the sneaker scene as robots do everything from clean our floors to try on bras for us and handily best us in parkour and backflips

After a shoe gets loaded into BILL, the machine creates a 3D digital model of the footwear that determines which parts most need cleaning with the bot's big, swooshy multicolored brushes. If the shoe has torn spots, shoppers can select patches of recyclable polyester to repair the wear and tear. For a personal touch, Nike store employees add new liners and laces made from recycled materials. The process takes up to 45 minutes from start to finish.  

The machine is now undergoing a trial run at Nike Town London, where customers can use it free of charge. "People will go to great lengths to care for their favorite shoes," Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, sustainability lead at Nike NXT said in a statement. "Repairing a product is a way to extend our memory with a product. We see BILL as a tool for being able to do that."  

BILL can currently clean Air Force 1s, Air Jordan 1s, Space Hippie 01s and Nike Dunks, but may have a tough time handling these virtual Nike NFT Cryptokicks that sold for $130K earlier this year. 

A round brush cleans a sneaker in Nike's B.I.L.L. shoe-cleaning machine

Your shoes will never get this level of attention again. 

Alex Kurunis/Nike