City first as driverless trucks sweep through a science park

Two driverless sweeper trucks underwent their first tests at Songjiang's Tus-Caohejing Science Park.
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

A driverless street sweeping truck is tested at Songjiang’s Tus-Caohejing Science Park. The electric trucks move on a planned route and can detect and pick up garbage without the help of a driver or assistant. They begin their tasks at 2am every day to avoid any disturbance and maintain a low driving speed throughout their journey. 

Two driverless sweeper trucks underwent their first tests at Songjiang’s Tus-Caohejing Science Park.

The trucks, designed by Autowise.ai, a Songjiang-based company, started up automatically and moved out from their parking spaces to begin sweeping.

In operation, the trucks obeyed traffic rules and were able to circumvent roadside obstacles. As the sweeping task neared completion, they automatically moved to a garbage and dumped their waste into it. Finally, the two trucks returned to their parking spaces.

To avoid any disturbance, they begin their tasks at 2am every day and maintain a low driving speed throughout their journey. Ye Qing, co-founder and chief architect of Autowise.ai, said current feedback was satisfactory.

The sensors on the sweepers cost 300,000 yuan (US$47,453), Ye revealed.

Instead of using expensive high-accuracy positioning devices, engineers created an innovative solution that combines a LiDAR (a remote sensing method) array with economic GPS/IMU sensors, and further adapted by the team. So that it can be easily applied to different truck types and make commercialized batch production possible.

“Equipped with AI and intelligent driving technology, driverless sweepers can promise a clean and nice city and reduce workload on sanitation workers,” Ye said.

The technology has a huge potential commercial value. It is estimated that China’s nationwide road sweeping costs are enormous, of which 60 percent is spent on wages.

Founded in the latter half of 2017, Autowise.ai is a fast developing company which won angel investment from Redpoint Ventures (China) at the end of 2017.

In less than two months, it accomplished its pre-A round financing with a total financing volume surpassing 100 million yuan.

Huang Chao, its co-founder and CEO Ye and other core personnel, have extensive experience in intelligent driving, AI, transport networks and big data.

“Fully taking advantage of the talent, technology and information merits of the G60 High-Tech Corridor, we will build our company into an industrial pioneer in the field of intelligent driving,” said Ye.

The G60 High-Tech Corridor, based along the G60 Expressway that goes from Shanghai to Kunming in Yunnan Province, connects Songjiang with the cities of Jiaxing and Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.

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