|An automated, unmanned window cleaning system for washing the exterior surfaces and windows on high-rise buildings|
Emirati aims to clean up with his window cleaning invention: Emirati Ahmed Ali Alshehhi, 35, has had his own workshop at his home in Ras Al Khaimah since he was in primary school. In 2002, while studying electrical engineering at Valparaiso University in the United States, he proved his flair for innovation by beating 140 other contestants from all over the world in a robotics competition with his creation – a firefighting robot.
Two years later, while working as an engineer in Abu Dhabi, he began noticing newly built skyscrapers around him and their window cleaners – and the extreme conditions under which they work. “It’s such a slow and risky process,” he says. “In Dubai, it’s the number-one source of industrial accidents. Inventors from all over the world have come up with several technologies to overcome this problem, but no technology has yet been able to widely penetrate the market safely and effectively.”
Alshehhi decided to have a go himself, designing an automated, unmanned cleaning system for washing the exterior surfaces and windows on high-rise buildings, with a very lofty goal. “I am focusing my built-up skills towards innovation that shall positively serve humanity in a better way,” he explains.
|Ahmed Ali Alshehhi at the Takreer Research Centre in Abu Dhabi.|
He started by building and testing several mini prototypes. In 2011, with a view to turning his invention into a sustainable business, he hired AGIP to file his patent application in several countries where the technology has potential. “After nearly three years I got my US patent and later the Canadian patent,” he says. “It is still ongoing in the UAE and elsewhere.”
As a full-time engineer, Alshehhi has found it difficult to find the time to obtain the resources he needs. The project has so far cost him about Dh750,000 out of his own pocket, but he has had support from Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee for the US aspects of the process, and from his employer Takreer, or the Abu Dhabi Oil Refining Company.
Last year, he built and tested a full-scale functional prototype, with good results. “Compared with manual cleaning, my system is eight to 10 times faster and also much safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly,” he says. “I am now working on further improvements.”