New robot aims to make high-rise window cleaning faster and safer

Simon Fraser University

A new robotic window cleaner is in the works, which claims to be three times faster, safer, and more efficient than current methods. Co-founder and SFU postdoctoral researcher, Hossein Kamali, invented the robotic window cleaner with the goal to increase efficiency and eliminate risk of injuries and fatalities that come with traditional window cleaning – something that has been carried out the same way for decades.

The idea emerged when Mohammad Dabiri, co-founder of Autonopia, was working in a high-rise in Malaysia and unfortunately witnessed a window cleaner tragically fall from the 10th floor.

“At that point in time, the man lost his life just so the windows are cleaner for a few weeks which is a very unfair trade,” says Dabiri. “I was thinking, well, where are the robots?”

The innovative and unique robot allowed Kamali to win a 2021 Mitacs Entrepreneur Award for Outstanding Entrepreneur.

According to Kamali, Window washing can be very dangerous, inefficient and unsustainable. “Many window cleaning contractors have told us that they cannot seem to find the necessary work source for their building – the job is very physical, demanding, and not so many people want to do that.”

With Vancouver’s diverse architecture, such as the Marine Building with complicated facades and windows, the robotic window cleaner is also capable of covering all different types of buildings.

“Our robotic solution mimics the behaviour of a human worker,” says Kamali. “Our customers need something that covers more than 95% of different buildings. If the solution can cover only a seemingly simple building, it will not be a very comprehensive, good, solution. So it can cover any type of building.”

This patent-pending machine is designed to withstand wind and cold temperatures, with the aim to make it more self-sufficient and less dependent on the operator. Kamali is hoping to have the first test pilot take place in early 2022. The robot will debut in Vancouver and Toronto and then, if all goes well, the co-founders plan to continue to expand accordingly.

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