In our best robots of CES roundup last week, it appears that we left out an interesting offering: the Windoro window-cleaning robot from South Korea.
But there's no magic, of course. There's magnetism. The robot consists of two modules that go on opposite sides of the window and hold each other using permanent magnets.
The mighty iRobot, with its best-selling Roomba vacuums and innovative Scooba floor-washing bots, dominates the cleaning-robot market. But now Ilshim Global, a small firm from Gyeongsan, South Korean, wants to claim a new part of that market -- the vertical segment, so to speak.
Unveiled late last year, the Windoro robot was a joint development between Ilshim and the Pohang Institute of Intelligent Robotics, or PIRO. The machine measures about 20 centimeters (7.9 inches) on a side and weighs in at 2.7 kilograms (6 pounds).
The Windoro robot can clean windows 6 to 25 millimeters thick (0.2 to 1 inch). And no, you won't see it hanging on skyscrapers -- its creators say it's designed for cleaning windows at homes and stores.
One of the robot's two modules works as the navigation unit. It uses accelerometers to navigate and bump sensors to detect obstacles and window frames. The other module is the cleaning unit, which has four spinning microfiber pads and a reservoir that dispenses detergent.
The robot first moves up and down and left and right to determine the dimensions of the window. It then follows a zigzag pattern to cover the entire surface, moving at an average speed of 8 centimeters per second and returning to the starting point when it's finished.
One battery charge lasts about 2 hours, and the robot can clean a surface of up to 12 square meters (130 square feet).
The Windoro robot will first go on sale in South Korea, followed by Europe, over the next couple of months. It should be available in the United States in April and will retail for about US $400.
UPDATE 1/19: Corrected maximum surface area robot can clean.
Photo and video: Josh Romero & Joe Calamia/IEEE Spectrum