Autonomous Snowbot Pro hits the sidewalk

May 13, 2019  - By
Photo: Left Hand Robotics

Photo: Left Hand Robotics

The autonomous SnowBot Pro is ready to clear your walkways. Offered by Left Hand Robotics and guided by Swift Navigation, it is a commercial-grade, robotically driven product for snow removal.

Driving autonomously, SnowBot Pro clears snow from walkways with a 56-inch-wide rotating brush, reducing the number of hand shovelers or snow blower operators needed by up to 80 percent, the companies said. Various front and rear attachments allow for a multitude of tasks, such as snow removal in the front and deicing in the rear. It also reduces potentially costly slip and fall insurance claims.

The SnowBot is programmed and controlled remotely from the cloud via an online dashboard or mobile app, and follows its programmed path using GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope technologies for navigation.

Sensors detect any obstacles and can instruct the robot to stop to avoid collisions and send instructions about how to bypass obstacles. Location, weather and robot status data is recorded in real time, along with before and after photos. The detailed recording helps minimize insurance and risk-management costs while providing customers with proof of work.

The robot has to navigate precisely, avoiding potentially damaging landscaping, walls, curbs and other obstacles along sidewalks and walkways. Centimeter-level GNSS ensures it avoids obstacles and stays on its designated route. Finding a reliable real-time kinematics (RTK) GNSS solution was critical given that many sidewalks are near buildings and underneath trees.

After evaluation, Left Hand Robotics chose Swift Navigation’s Piksi Multi. Its centimeter-level accuracy keeps the robot in its designated path and allows its base robot platform to navigate in a variety of environments, whether in lines (sidewalks, bike paths) or large open areas (fields, parks). The Piksi Multi also retains a GNSS fix in challenging conditions and environments.

Once Swift’s ruggedized Duro receiver was launched — and could be used by customers as a base station that was required for RTK — Left Hand Robotics had a complete offering for customers, which it launched in the winter of 2018–2019.

A Piksi Multi is installed in each SnowBot Pro, and its Path Collection Tools (tools customers use to collect the initial path data the robot will follow) and Duro is used as the base station controlling the SnowBot Pro robot.

The SnowBot Pro – the first self-driving snow clearing robot for commercial use. from Left Hand Robotics on Vimeo.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.