Can we have a robot for cleaning the exterior surfaces of high-rise building?

Cleaning the outer surface of high rise buildings is costly, dangerous and increasingly difficult because of the arbitrary shapes of modern buildings. Swarms of autonomous robots may be used for the efficient and constant cleaning of large glass surfaces.

A swarm of robots which attach themselves to the surface with suction cups and which are able to move autonomously according to an optimized trajectory may be used for efficient and economical cleaning of high rise buildings. Scaling the robot is a challenge, because of the amount of water and cleaning liquid and the power supply it has to carry. 

Therefore, an optimized size of the device with a trade off in range, cleaning liquid and waste water payload and energy storage has to be used. While a number of the robots is in operation, others can be maintained, serviced, charged and prepared for redeployment in a safe work shop. Safety from falling window cleaning robots is obviously a major concern and must be addressed with the highest priority. 

As per Gulfnews reports, the robot is cleaning the external surface of high rise building in Dubai makes us believe that it could be possible in near future!  Dubai’s skyline will see significant changes when Gekko III and CleanAnt get to work on the city’s high-rise buildings. The two are cleaning robots, specialized in cleaning windows and building facades using the latest technologies developed in Switzerland by Serbot AG. “We are bringing this new technology to the UAE where we’ve seen a lot of potential, especially with the skyscrapers and various architectural designs which are very hard to clean using conventional methods,” Bas Schmit Phiferons, Serbot’s Business Development Manager, said. 

The robot is able to clean windows and building facades using the latest technologies developed in Switzerland by Serbot AG (Image Credit: Serbot AG). 

Gekko, a disk-shaped robot, has a cleaning capacity of up to 400 square metres/hour, which is fifteen times faster than manual cleaning. It uses vacuum power to attach itself to the surface to be cleaned whether vertical, horizontal or slanted. The robot then uses a windshield-wiper type of brush to blast away any kind of dirt, be it dust, mud or even oils, a residue of fuel burning from cars and jets. 

“No detergent is needed for cleaning, which is an added environmental advantage. The robots can use dry ice, demineralised water or water with enzymes to eat away the oils. They also can filter and recycle the used material to minimise waste,” Schmit Phiferons said. However, other building shapes require a different method, and this is where CleanAnt is used. Facade cleaning is difficult, expensive and dangerous. The CleanAnt does this work safe and reliable automatically or radio guided, vertical or overhanging areas are not a problem for both robot systems. CleanAnt also overcomes concave and convex areas and obstacles and can work in heavy traffic areas. 

The amount of glass surfaces requiring constant maintenance and cleaning has increased significantly in the last decade. The shapes of buildings make them increasingly difficult and dangerous to clean. Also, the cost of cleaning is a significant part of the overall operation cost. Glass surfaces are usually coated for improved thermal properties. Glass manufacturers demand regular cleaning as part of their warranty agreements. The simple answer, several experts said, is that washing windows is something that machines still cannot do as well as people can. The more complicated answer is that high-rise buildings are more complicated than they used to be. 

“Building is starting to look like huge sculptures in the sky,” said Craig S. Caulkins, who consults with building owners on how to maintain their exteriors. “A robot can’t maneuver to get around those curves to get into the facets of the building,” he said. “The robots have problems.” Most notably, he said, robotic cleaning systems tend to leave dirt in the corners of the glass walls that are designed to provide panoramic views from high floors. 

We may get better answer for this subject in near future with the development of advanced robotic technology. It’s very much essential to safeguard the life of humans who are involved in cleaning of high-rise building.


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