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UT spin-off launches first autonomous window-cleaning robot

Kite Robotics demonstrates robot on 1o november 2015

It’s show time. UT spin-off KITE Robotics is ready for the very first public demonstration of its robotic cleaner. And to prove it, the KITE Robot will clean the ‘Spiegel’, a building at the entrance to the UT campus with a structure almost entirely of glass. The developers claim that the robot is five times faster and much more economical than a manual window cleaner. It also cleans frames, and the soap-free water means no more ugly smears on the glass.

The robot is computer-driven and was developed for cleaning large, smooth surfaces. Together with his team, Stefan Spanjer – founder of KITE Robotics – developed a system that uses four cables to steer the robot’s position on the building. ‘When you manipulate the cables in a specific way you can change the position of the robot and move it across the entire building,’ he explains. During the cleaning process (four or six times a year on a subscription basis), the robot is attached to simple clamps which are mounted on the roof in a one-off operation. The principle is explained in the KITE Robotics film below.

‘The robot is ideal for large buildings with high risks for traditional window-cleaning, so it offers a perfect solution for building managers and cleaning companies. Window cleaners have to work at great heights in all kinds of weather, so their job is dangerous as well as physically demanding (one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, according to insurance companies). The robot can clean buildings to heights of around 80 metres. It cleans the whole facade: glass, frames, and cladding (aluminium, natural stone, trespa, steel, etc.).

Stefan Spanjer graduated in mechanical engineering and worked in the Laboratory of Mechanical Automation and Mechatronics under Professor Just Herder. He set up KITE Robotics with an STW grant. The company employs seven people from the University of Twente and Saxion University of Applied Sciences.

Official launch, 10 november
On Tuesday 10 November, the KITE Robot will be put through its paces in public for the first time on the ‘Spiegel’, the glass building that dominates the entrance to the campus of the University of Twente. The demonstration starts at 4:00 PM.  We look forward to seeing you then.

The robot was tested yesterday. The UT literally served as a living lab. See this movie report by Dutch news channel Hart van Nederland. Kite Robotics is located in the Gallery at Kennispark Twente.