If robots were invented to make our lives easier, the Winbot 7 window cleaning robot by Ecovacs Robotics is a brilliant example of this in action. Similar to the ever-popular robot floor vacuums, the Winbot 7, launched here at CES 2013, cleans your windows so you can find better ways to spend your time. All you need to do is pop the robot onto your window and you'll have a clean surface in the same amount of time it takes to eat lunch.
At roughly the size of a board game, the Winbot 7 attaches to any window with two powerful vacuum suctions, which make an inner ring and outer ring in the center of the bottom of the device, and navigates around the surface using an army of suction cups set up like a tank's wheels. Also attached to the bottom of the device is a cleaning cloth, which gently wipes away moisture and grime from dirty windows. Unfortunately, the Winbot 7 isn't the most powerful device, as tough water stains may defeat this best-intentioned robot, but when used regularly, Ecovacs Robotics claims it only needs to be run every three months, although it can be used as often as you want.
When first placed on the glass, the Winbot 7 crawls to the very bottom of the window then to the very top, measuring the size of the surface. Then, starting at the top left corner, the robot travels the length of the glass in a zig-zag route, making sure every inch is passed over. Once it hits the bottom corner, Winbot 7 navigates the parameter of the window then ends its cycle at the same place it started. Normal-size windows generally take between 8 to 10 minutes to clean, but we watched the bot go to town on a window approximately 12 x 10 feet with a cycle of about 12 minutes.
The size of the window that the Winbot 7 can clean is limited only by the length of the power cord, as this robot needs constant power. The included power cord is is 10 feet, and additional lengths of 6 feet can be purchased. You can, of course, use your own power cords, but the Winbot 7 cords have suction cups to help keep things in place.
Fortunately, all is not lost if the Winbot 7 loses power. There's a small internal battery, which gives the bot about 30 minutes of life, enabling the robot to remain suctioned to the window and return safely to the bottom. Once it has reached its emergency location, the robot will begin emitting a loud alert, much like a scared child, alerting the owner of the dire situation.
This robot can't step over sills or ledges either, so if there's a small gap between two panes you'll need to manually switch between the two. But this device was designed to clean both inside and outside windows, which makes the suction cups on the power cords very useful when snaking the device outdoors.
There's no exact release date yet, but we should expect to see the Winbot 7 available for purchase in the spring. It will cost somewhere between $299 and $399, as the cost hasn't yet been determined.