So when a robot-like device comes along that can perform a cleaning task on its own so that we don't have to, it naturally gets people talking. Ecovacs Robotics' Winbot 7 certainly had people talking (and gawking) at CES 2013. This little robot cleans windows and can get to hard-to-reach areas better than humans can.
Winbot 7 sticks to any window with two powerful vacuum suctions, and moves around the window using a set of rotating suction cups that power the robot along. A cleaning cloth wipes away dust, grime, and moisture as the Winbot zig-zags across the glass.
When first set on the window, Winbot crawls to the very bottom, and then to the very top, to measure the window size. It then movies across the window in a zig-zag pattern, making sure to cover every inch of surface. When finished, Winbot crawls back to the spot where it started. The time needed per window of course will vary with the window size, but the robot moves pretty fast overall.
While the Winbot is great for a quick dust or clean, it doesn't provide much elbow grease--tougher water spots or stains might need extra cleaning. Another drawback to Winbot is its movement limitations. It isn't cordless, so it's stuck with cleaning windows within reach of its 10-foot power cord. You'll have to manually pick Winbot up and move it to another spot if the window is bigger.
Still, having a personal window cleaning assistant is pretty helpful. And you can see where this might go in the future. Home vacuuming robots have overcome similar limitations, dramatically reducing the human help they need to get their work done. Someday soon we may see a machine like the Winbot that is wireless, jumps from window to window, and can be set to automatically do the windows every seven days.
Winbot 7 is set to go on sale in the spring, and will be priced between $299 and $399.