Tel Aviv (CNN Business)A skyscraper window washer regularly ranks among the toughest jobs in the world.
The role, which can pay an upward of $27 an hour, often requires workers to hang hundreds of feet above the ground. The high wages and steep turnover rates have made the industry ripe for automation. Israeli startup Skyline Robotics wants to replace those roles with robots, while employing the same people who currently hold those jobs.
“We’re hiring the window cleaners,” Yaron Schwarcz, CEO and Co-founder of Skyline, told CNN Business. “We have a lot of engineers, but to operate the robot, we hire ex-window cleaners.” Ford’s delivery robot walks like a human
Schwarcz, who said the move mixes “good sense and good morals,” believes window washers have “the best experience to be the supervisors for these robots.” The robot’s arms and brushes clean the dirt and grime from the platforms dangling from the buildings, but a human still has to be on the ground to oversee the process at all times.
Much like it is for human window washers, one of the biggest challenges for the robots is the unexpected, such as a person opening up a window. Computer vision and touch sensors help the robots feel the building to work around these challenges.
“Think of the sensors we’ve developed like a human hand. We’ve designed the same thing for the robot so that we imitate the human hand,” Schwarcz said. “Every obstacle that it might have, like a head bobbing out the window, the robot will self-correct and move around it so as not to break a window.”