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Intel awards student $75,000 for window-washing drone!





Oliver Nicholls, a 19-year-old Australian high school student, won the Gordon E. Moore Award at the 2018 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) with his window-washing drone, according to a press release by Intel. Nicholls designed and built a $2,300 drone that autonomously washes commercial buildings with a spray nozzle and rotating microfiber scrubbers while being tethered to a roof. Out of about 1,800 participants, Nicholls’ project was selected to be the best in its category and in the whole fair, which also meant he won the $75,000 grand prize that came with it. Here is a short video of the autonomous window-washing drone that was uploaded on Nicholls’ personal YouTube account:

The Sydney native was chosen for his innovative research and his drone’s potential impact on the field. Nicholls’ window-washing drone was made to possibly replace traditional commercial cleaning methods and reduce costs that normally go as high as $11,000 per job. More importantly, the tethered drone can reduce injury-related risks associated with cleaning skyscrapers.


Oliver Nicholls, 19, of Sydney, Australia, was awarded first place on Friday, May 18, 2018, for designing and building a prototype of an autonomous robotic window cleaner for commercial buildings at the 2018 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public and the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. (Credit: Chris Ayers/Society for Science & the Public)

How does the window-washing drone work?

According to Science News for Students, the 26 to 33-pound drone is designed with a computer that controls up-and-down movements with the help of ropes and cables. The propellers are used to push the device away from a building, and they also help move the drone to a different section of windows. After water is sprayed from the drone, microfiber scrubbers clean the windows, while an attached squeegee is used to remove excess water.

As shown in the video, the window-cleaning drone is tethered to a roof while its body lies parallel against a building. Nicholls’ project was tested in a backyard with a leaf blower to withstand wind speeds up to 28 mph. Similar how tractors are used by farmers to go row by row, the window-washing drone goes section by section to clean dirt off windows.


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