Guangzhou has deployed four robotic sweepers in one of its suburban districts, with the devices able to clean up more than 5,000 sqm of areas and offer a respite to sanitation workers during the scorching summer days.
With the press of a few buttons on a mobile app, technicians can guide two gray robotic scrubbers to go back and forth in a designated area to clean up the ground in the Sanyuanli neighborhood of Guangzhou.
Sitting on the chassis of a low-speed autonomous vehicle, these robots move around on their own along pre-planned routes.
When they enter a more crowded spot, with the risk of ramming into pedestrians, the robots’ sensors enable them to identify obstacles, stop in their tracks or bypass them.
“The robot sweepers not just realized unmanned cleaning, they are safe and less energy-intensive,” said Fan Shun, general manager of the Guangzhou branch of Shenzhen-based Yunjie Technology.
The firm is behind the robotic sweepers.
Fan told local reporters that these two sweepers had just been put to use in the Sanyuanli neighborhood, a storied section of Guangzhou because of its historical role as the site of an epic rebellion against invading British troops during the first Opium War (1839-42).
These robots can sweep close to the edges of built environment like green belts or parks and also detect and avoid obstacles by themselves.
They are controllable via cell phone. In the case of emergencies, users can press a button to make them stop.
Photo courtesy of Yunjie Technology
Equipped with sensors and anti-collision emergency brakes, the robots know which part of their work area is or will become a no-go zone as traffic gets heavier.
They also enable automatic replenishment of a built-in water tank, self-initiated water sprinkling, smart garbage disposal and autonomous battery charging, among other functions.
The robot can suck in 150 liters of garbage and lasts 6-8 hours on a single charge. It cleans 5,760 sqm of land per hour, equivalent to the efficiency of three to five sanitation workers.
At our beck and call
“Robot sweeper can be at our beck and call, they can effectively reduce the work frequency of sanitation workers,” an official with the local urban management bureau told reporters, requesting anonymity.
It takes a robot sweeper less than 30 minutes to perform what is a two-man job that lasts more than an hour, said Sun Weibin, one of the sanitation workers deployed to Sanyuanli.
The local official stated that cleaning robots not just increased the efficiency but also alleviated a labor shortage exacerbated by an aging population.
Guangzhou is not alone in embracing robots in public services. The practices of many localities across China have mirrored this trend. They steadily roll out autonomous cleaning robots to partly automate the public sanitation work.
Market observers believe this will accelerate the adoption of such equipment and bolster the revenue of tech companies behind them.