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Autonomous window cleaning robot “shows off” on UT campus

The KITE Robot in action during the first demonstration

KITE Robot, the autonomous window cleaning robot from UT spin-off KITE Robotics held its first-ever public demonstration on Tuesday and began cleaning the windows of the UT building The Spiegel. This ingenious automated system cleans windows and facades automatically, without human action, at high altitude. The robot consisting of a large rotating brush and four long cables, was activated by the push of a button. Dozens of invited guests and interested people came to the demonstration. The robot works five times faster than a normal window cleaner and is much cheaper than manual washing. Moreover, not only windows, but also smooth facades are cleaned.

With a firm press on the button former UT dean Rikus Eising activates the KITE Robot. When the first ideas arose several years ago to design a cleaning robot, he was there to support the initiators. Seconds later, the robot starts to make noise and begins to move. A large round brush hangs on four cables on the facade of the building and starts spinning. Water begins to flow through the brush and falls down along the facade. Because of proper tension on the cables the robot moves slowly upward, while it polishes the facade and the windows.

Mechanical and founder Stefan Spanjer from KITE Robotics says: “In order to properly clean the windows, the robot needs water. This will be available through the water service pipe on the roof. By appropriately pulling the cables you’ll see that the robot can lift itself up. A computer is busy controlling the cables the right way. Suppose the robot will measure something crazy, it automatically goes into safe mode.”

The gathered crowd watches intently how the robot shows his skills. Meanwhile, the robot climbs to the edge of the roof and prepares for the same route to go back, to definitely remove residual dirt. All without using soap and warm water, so the robot is seen as environmentally friendly. The current robot can operate buildings with a height of 90 meters but it is expected to achieve greater heights in the future, says Spanjer. “Higher buildings are no problem, we just need longer cables.”

After KITE Robot has returned to the starting point the computer pulls the robot half a meter to the right and the robot continues his adventure. The following track towards the top is ready to be cleaned.

You can see an impression of the demonstration below.

(C) Dennis Moekotte / Kennispark Twente

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