Window Washers Replaced By A Square Box

http://live.wsj.com/public/page/embed-731E7228_E41B_4098_A70D_A0B0812CF7F1.html

Maids used to be very firm on the issue, “I will do laundry, cooking, cleaning, but NOT windows.” There is something mysteriously tedious about window washing, and in New York it is compounded by the sheer height of our buildings.  I still recall watching workman hang off our building with their squeegees cleaning the glass seven stories above Manhattan (imagine the Chrysler Building).

In the spirit of the Roomba and the gutter-cleaning Looj, Winbot 7 joins the domestic team of Mr. Clean’s automated closet.  The Winbot, produced by Ecovacs Robotics, is the first “full-service window washing robot.”  Using suction is is able to attach itself to the window pane and map out a  cleaning perimeter.  It even lets out a belch, or in robot language a tune to let you know he’s done.

Nick Savadian, executive general manager of Ecovacs U.S. arm, doesn’t want Winbot to stay in the suburbs but eyes NY Skyscrapers as a potential market, “Winbot is very proud to put itself in that position…It will clean the outside without taking any chances of liability” according to a recent Wall Street Journal front page article.  Of course the buggy whip manufacturers are still skeptical, “Technology is nice — phones and everything — but for window cleaning, I can’t see it,” said William Coffey, who works for Manhattan-based Skyway Window Cleaning and has been in the industry for three decades. “We’re jumping, we’re going on a scaffold, we’re getting pushed out [by wind], you know, we’re going down the side of a building,” he added. “I can’t see a robot thinking of all the things that have to be done.”

Often I am confronted by cynics that exclaim, Robots will replace American workers leading to the rising unemployment rates. I am certain that this is the argument of Local 32BJ window washing union, who insures their 800 members make upwards of $60,000 a year.  However, I rebuff their claims as their stubbordness is the cause of unemployment, rather than embracing and harnessing technology to build a big market they complain with declarations, “we take a lot of pride in people that do those jobs that only exist in a city like this.”  Sounds nice, but will join Newsweek and Life Magazine in the history books.  Already Winbot joins a crowded automated field of window washers with Serbot AG’s Gecko and the current HighRise Window Cleaning System.

So, spray sunshine all over your face and put on a Winbot smile!



Categories: News, Politics, Robotics

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