The first autonomous vehicles that people could see on roads may not be cars or trucks but street sweepers. Trombia Technologies Oy today launched Trombia Free, which it said is the world’s first full-power autonomous street sweeper. The startup said its technology will offer a more sustainable, cost-efficient, easy-to-maintain, and faster alternative for combating both mechanical debris and fine-dust challenges in paved areas.
Kuopio, Finland-based Snowek Oy, the parent company of Trombia, was founded in 2011. It has become a global provider of high-end wheel loader and tractor snowplow and sweeper attachments. Trombia Technologies has been developing its globally patented sweeping technology since 2013. It entered the market with sweeper attachments in 2017. Trombia sweeper attachments are available in seven countries in North America and Northern and Central Europe.
Trombia Free designed for inclement weather, sustainability
Trombia Technologies said its new system is the world’s first street-cleaning device designed to be operated fully autonomously in all weather conditions in modern smart cities and industrial destinations.
Trombia Free is equipped with an autonomous, lidar-based, machine vision technology that filters the signal “noise” from rainy, snowy, or other environments. The company said it has developed advanced algorithms to absorb data on objects from various sources and to generate millions of illustrations of an object at once. This enables accurate and safe localization, it said.
The startup added that its cleaning devices use less than 15% of the power required by currently available heavy suction sweeping technologies. It added that this could enable mass electrification and help heavy vehicles to become carbon-neutral. “This the first time in the global heavy equipment industries that a diesel-fueled heavy equipment vehicle is electrified without compromising the power and performance capabilities,” the company said.
“We think about the over 3 million metric tons of carbon emissions that high-power, diesel-fueled, suction street sweepers around the world produce annually,” stated Antti Nikkanen, CEO of Trombia Technologies. “The current vehicle technology relies on suction performance that was invented in the 1950s. We simply cannot enter the 2020s [as a] green and sustainable era with such an outdated solution.”
“With the globally patented Trombia technology, we are able to take down the power requirement dramatically, so turning it into a beautiful and powerful, electrified, and autonomous device has been an exciting journey to this day,” he said.
RaaS and pilot program
Trombia Free is intended to allow for the rapid replacement of diesel-fueled street sweepers, said Trombia Technologies. The robotic vehicles are being marketed in a pay-per-square-meter business model, similar to robots as a service or RaaS. Final product pricing is available at the pre-sales start during the summer 2021, according to the company.
“We have worked to understand the total cost of street-cleaning operations per square meter and can already say that Trombia Free will save money dramatically from the end users and the contractors,” said Nikkanen. “Even more, a rapid rollout helps saving our planet. While we also make regular purchasing options available, we believe this revenue-share model with contractors will be fast way to deliver cleaner streets, cleaner urban air, more sustainably.”
The autonomous sweeper will roll out through a pilot program over the next year, followed by mass deliveries.
“Starting in January 2021, we start a 12-month commercial pilot program for different applications,” said Jaakko Happonen, founder of Trombia Technologies. “This is mainly to develop a product and model range for different applications. Trombia Free was developed below-the-radar in pilots with the Nordic European parking-lot operator Aimo Park and for harder conditions with piling machinery manufacturer Junttan’s industrial plants. Now we move forward with increased focus on smart-city sector.”