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Ecovacs Winbot sucks glass to clean your panes

This window-washing robot showing at CES 2013 has easy stick-on and clean operation. But don't chuck your Windex yet.

The Winbot can also detect edges when it cleans glass walls.
Tim Hornyak/CNET

LAS VEGAS--Robots that wash your windows are another dream of domestic automation, but most early models involve a cumbersome two-part unit that goes on both sides of a pane.

At CES 2013, China-based Ecovacs is showing off a new version of its Winbot window washer, one that doesn't require a magnetic support on the other side of the glass.

Just stick the Winbot 7 series on the window, press start, and it starts moving up and down. That's a lot easier than handling two machines.

It can work wirelessly on a battery charge, but when used above ground level it's best to attach a safety cable, which doubles as a power supply, to the unit and the window itself.

Winbot was exhibited at IFA 2012, and it's billed as the only bot of its kind that cleans glass of any thickness, even Thermopanes. But it won't work on frosted glass or panes with writing or signage on them.

Winbot has a vacuum pump that seals it to the glass, while letting it move around automatically. It travels in a zig-zag pattern before doing the edges.

It cleans by wiping with a solution-moistened cleaning pad, then squeegee-ing remaining dirt, and then drying with a rear pad.

That sounds good enough to toss out your Windex, but unless you have floor-to-ceiling views, repositioning Winbot to clean smaller windows will still be a pain in the pane.

Following earlier versions, the latest Winbot was launched in China last year and is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in the spring of this year.

A $299 version will clean windows that have frames, in other words well-defined borders, while a $349 version will be able to clean glass walls or windows that have no frames.

Now all they need are legs, and they'll be cleaning skyscrapers.