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Wall-crawling robots sound out loose tiles on Tokyo buildings

Replacing human inspectors cuts costs by 25% and improves safety

BlueCrawler taps on walls with a rod as engineers listen for the telltale sounds of loose tiles.

TOKYO -- Lightweight robots crawl over buildings' outer walls tapping on tiles in a safety inspection service recently launched by a unit of Tokyo Gas, shaving costs by a quarter compared to using human inspectors.

The roughly 20 kg BlueCrawler robot, measuring about 90 cm tall and 90 cm wide, is designed for buildings up to 20 stories high. It travels vertically on ropes lowered from roofs and is remotely controlled by an engineer.

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