Dangle no more: Window-washing drone for towers could replace human cleaners

Drones are edging evermore into the workplace, transforming the way jobs are done and enabling companies to save time, improve safety, and cut costs all at the same time.

Take this enormous window-washing drone. Built by Latvia-based Aerones, the machine aims to replace those human-operated cradles you’ve seen dangling on the side of huge towers.

Aerones — an outfit that hit the headlines in 2017 when it used one of its remotely controlled copters as a rescue vehicle — claims its window-washing drone can work 20 times faster than traditional human-powered methods, and is much safer, too.

The three meter-wide, 12-rotor machine is equipped with hoses and sponges, with on-board cameras allowing the ground-based pilot to carefully monitor the washing process.

Power comes via a cable running between the drone and a battery on the ground, and water is fed through a hose from a tank that’s also back on terra firma. The current design means the drone can reach a height of 350 meters, though this could increase with further development. Aerones has also created its own stabilization system to ensure the drone can cope with blustery conditions, and therefore take to the skies as and when needed.

If you’re wondering about safety measures should the drone suffer a catastrophic malfunction mid-flight, then rest assured, the 55-kg (121 pound) machine won’t be tumbling onto anyone’s head, as a safety cable secures it to the top of the building.

A video (above) released by the company shows the drone in action, though from that alone it’s impossible to tell the effectiveness of its cleaning method. For example, would it be able to remove stubborn splotches gifted by birds, or would such marks still require a bit of old-fashioned elbow grease administered by human operatives?

Other applications

Now, if you’re thinking how a water-squirting drone might also work pretty darn well for firefighters, then Aerones has already thought of that. A variation of its window-washing drone has been in development for a while and works along the same lines, drawing both water and power from the ground.

A third version was also unveiled earlier this year that’s capable of inspecting and cleaning giant wind turbines, though you need to make sure Jeff Bezos isn’t in the vicinity when you turn on the tap.

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