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"...in fifty years, do you believe that people will be recognizably human?"
- Greg Bear

Window-Willie  
  A robot that cleaned windows by electrostatic repulsion of dust and grime.  

Yes, I invented Hired Girl and all her kinfolk-Window Willie and the rest-even though you won't find my name on them. While I was in the service I had thought hard about what one engineer can do. Go to work for Standard, or du Pont, or General Motors? Thirty years later they give you a testimonial dinner and a pension. You haven't missed any meals, you've had a lot of rides in company airplanes. But you are never your own boss. The other big market for engineers is civil service-good starting pay, good pensions, no worries, thirty days annual leave, liberal benefits. But I had just had a long government vacation and wanted to be my own boss...

I got to thinking about dirty windows and that ring around the bathtub that is so hard to scrub, as you have to bend double to get at it. It turned Out that an electrostatic device could make dirt go spung! off any polished silica surface, window glass, bathtubs, toilet bowls-anything of that sort. That was Window Willie and it's a wonder that somebody hadn't thought of him sooner. I held him back until I had him down to a price that people could not refuse. Do you know what window washing used to cost by the hour?

From The Door Into Summer, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1956
Additional resources -

Here's a passive implementation of this idea - take a look at this Science Fiction in the News story - Pilkington Activ Glass - The Invisible Squeegee Of Window-Willie.

Compare to the window-cleaner robots from Rendezvous With Rama (1972) by Arthur C. Clarke.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Door Into Summer
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to The Door Into Summer
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Window-Willie-related news articles:
  - Pilkington Activ Glass - The Invisible Squeegee Of Window-Willie
  - SkyBot High-Rise Window Cleaning Robot
  - Winboni Window-Washing Robot
  - PIRO Window Washing Robot

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