Student’s robot window cleaner wins $100,000 science prize

Injuries from high-rise buildings inspired a Sydney student’s invention that earned a $100,000 international science award.

Oliver Nicholls’ robot window cleaner was named overall winner of the  $100,000 Gordon E. Moore Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh last week.

The device is about the size of an esky and is powered by drones, motors and propellers.

It can be tethered to a building roof and is fitted with a powerful spray nozzle and rotating scrubbers.

The $3000 device can operate in 45kms/h winds and could replace costlier and more hazardous traditional window cleaning methods.

Oliver Nicholls' robotic window cleaner is powered by drones and motors. (Photo: CSIRO).Oliver Nicholls’ robotic window cleaner is powered by drones and motors. (Photo: CSIRO).

The 19-year-old Barker College student said reducing the number of injuries suffered by window cleaners after falls spurred him on.

“I heard at school how someone had fallen from a glass pane and injured themselves. I later heard about the collapse of a gantry.

“I thought ‘why does a person have to be doing such a dangerous activity – why can’t a robot just go and do it’.”

Oliver was up against 1800 high school students from 75 countries.

His robot also took first place in best in category for physical sciences robotics and intelligent machines. It also earned two second-place gongs.

Oliver said he had “always loved to tinker” and had been interested in science and engineering from an early age.

He built the robot largely from his home.

Aussie students excelled in the competition, with five 2018 BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards finalists winning 11 major awards.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018


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