Biz / Tech

Shanghai-developed driverless sweepers go global

Zhu Shenshen
Local startup is diversifying its product line, expanding production capacity in Shanghai as its sweepers are adopted in many countries around the world.
Zhu Shenshen

Shanghai-developed autonomous sweepers or driverless sanitation vehicles have been adopted overseas commercially, the first among all domestic brands, representing the city's commitment and leading position in AI.

Local startup is diversifying its product line, expanding production capacity in Shanghai and opening a new factory in neighboring Jiaxing City in Zhejiang Province, to tap into the autonomous sweeper market with an expected value of 270 billion yuan (US$37.5 billion) in China by 2025, Shanghai Daily learned.

"The unmanned sanitation operations liberate the labor force, enabling AI to take on more intensive and even hazardous labor tasks, and to promote the sustainable development of digital-intelligent cities," said Tang Yanye, vice president of Autowise and partner of the Shanghai-based company.

Tang called it a kind of new quality productive force, which means advanced productivity that is freed from traditional economic growth mode and productivity development paths, features high-tech, high efficiency and high quality.

In April 2019, Autowise obtained the world's first self-driving sweeper test license, taking the lead in applying AI and driverless technology to sanitation scenarios. Its products were shown at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference 2023 in Shanghai.

Currently, the company's driverless sweepers are used in Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, Shenzhen, Hefei and Chengdu. Overseas, they are used in the Middle East, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Shanghai-developed driverless sweepers go global
Ti Gong

Autowise V3s are in use in Dubai.

The high temperature and complicated environment gives Autowise vehicles the space to show their advantages, such as its commercial use near the Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, the company said.

The sweepers can "recognize" elements such as vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights, garbage, leaves, stones, potholes and all things on the road surface, and realize accurate edge-to-edge sweeping.

Demand is also fueled by the problems of the traditional sanitation industry, which is facing challenges such as an aging workforce, rising labor costs, difficulty in recruitment and high work hazards, analysts said.

In 2025, China's driverless sanitation sweeper market will generate a market of 270 billion yuan, with a penetration rate of about 5 percent, said researcher EqualOcean.

Founded in 2017, Autowise has a factory in Shanghai. Its new factory in Jiaxing will start work later this year.

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