An Israeli startup developing the first autonomous AI-powered robot to clean and inspect the facades of high-rise buildings has inked a $5.4 million deal for upkeep and maintenance of skyscrapers in Hong Kong, marking its foray into the Asian market.
Verobotics announced on Wednesday that it has teamed up with Hong Kong-based robotic solutions company Robocore to initially provide a few dozen robots over a period of three years around the city which boasts 9,000 high-rise buildings. As part of the deal, the robots are expected to clean and inspect the exterior of the buildings of some of the city’s biggest real estate developers, starting in the third quarter of 2023.
“With the largest concentration of high-rising buildings in the world, Verobotics solutions are especially relevant for Hong Kong,” stated Robocore CEO Roy Lim. “We are confident that the robots will be deployed on hundreds of buildings within a couple of years.”
“This technology is a game-changer,” Lim added.
Founded in 2020 by Ido Genosar and Itay Levitan, with the lead investment of TAU Ventures, Tel Aviv University’s VC arm along with other angels, Verobotics has developed what it calls a “human-like” vertical robot that weighs under 10 kilograms (22 pounds), operates autonomously, can be installed on every roof, and can easily be transported, and managed without the use of a crane or railing system.
Speaking to The Times of Israel, Genosar said that the $40 billion industry of building upkeep and maintenance hasn’t changed much since the 1950s and is mostly done manually by humans rappelling down a building, often exposed to extreme temperatures. The process is risky, labor-intensive, hazardous, and expensive, according to Genosar.
Working in the construction industry and looking for a better solution, Genosar started out of necessity to create the AI-powered robot that is built with aerospace engineering materials and crawls vertically like a spiderman on the façade of skyscrapers to clean and inspect buildings.
“Many high-rise buildings can only afford about two annual cleaning cycles and each cycle can take up to four months, while our device will take about a month and can be used cost-effectively four to six times per year,” remarked Genosar.
Alongside this, Genosar and Levitan developed a software platform that automates inspection and maintenance processes with the help of machine-learning algorithms. The platform scans and monitors building façades to gather data through sensors to detect flaws and damages, such as leakages or breakages.
“Our robotic device has cameras and provides a visual map with a navigation system for building owners and as such can also be used for predictive maintenance to save costs,” Genosar said.
The Hong Kong deal comes after Verobotics graduated from Intel’s Ignite growth accelerator program for startups, which taps into Israel’s tech ecosystem and helps nurture early-stage startups into high-impact, tech-forward companies.
Looking ahead, Genosar has plans for Verobotics to gradually deploy the robotic device in other markets in the US, Australia, Hong Kong and Israel.
“We believe that in 2024 we will manufacture and deploy more than 100 of our robots,” he said.