The capital's mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced that autonomous robotic cleaners are coming to work on a “permanent basis” in Moscow. Twelve electric devices called “Pixel” will sweep garbage and shovel snow at speeds of up to 10 km/h in the Kuzminki, Sokolniki and 50th Anniversary of October Parks parks. The robots are capable of sweeping for up to 16 hours without recharging and stop at the sight of a person, dog or even a squirrel, and their price is half the price of European medium-sized sidewalk machines, the developer assures. Autonomous “Pixels” can also be controlled remotely using a joystick from a Sony Xbox console.
Sergei Sobyanin announced the release of 12 autonomous unmanned cleaning robots into parks on your blog. The first Pixel devices (produced by the Avtonomika company) appeared at the city hall in April 2023. The robots were tested at VDNKh, in the vicinity of the former Novorossiysk cinema on Pokrovka, Rudnevo and Kuzminki parks, the mayor’s blog says. “Pixels did an excellent job,” assured Mr. Sobyanin, who decided to leave the robots in Kuzminki “on a permanent basis” and also send them to the Sokolniki and 50th Anniversary of October Parks parks.
According to the mayor, the robot can operate “in almost any weather”, sweeping and washing paths in the summer, shoveling snow in the winter, and it is also “quite nimble” - capable of reaching speeds of up to 10 km/h.
“The developer plans to enter mass production by the second half of 2024. Then we will be able to begin the gradual introduction of an unmanned system into the city economy,” the mayor promised.
- Structurally, the City Hall robot is a two-axle small-sized tractor (about 2.5 m long and an operating weight of 670 kg).
- “Pixel” is equipped with two electric motors (with a total power of 6 kW) and can operate on lithium-ion batteries for up to 16 hours a day (“with four charging cycles,” according to the robot’s documentation).
- The cleaner has Wi-Fi modules and an LTE modem, GPS and GLONASS navigation systems, ultrasonic sensors, radars, four surveillance cameras, two lidars and a “stereo camera with parallax.”
- The equipment set includes summer and winter brooms, a lawn mower, a sprinkler, a “snow blade, a vacuum sweeper” and a dispenser of liquid de-icing agents.
- “Pixel” is designed for seven years of operation, as follows from the documentation.
The general director of the Avtonomika company, Alexey Sividov, makes it clear that Pixel will not compete with Belarus tractors, KamAZs and other large-sized equipment, but rather an intermediate solution between a street sweeper and medium-sized human-controlled Moscow sidewalk cleaners. He estimates the cost of a European mid-size car used in Moscow at 30 million rubles, while the Pixel costs about 15.5 million rubles. “Besides, manned machines work only with a person, and he needs to be paid a salary,” says Mr. Sividov. Recalling the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, he emphasized that unmanned platforms make it possible to “minimize the human factor.” “Obviously, the efficiency of a person working with a robot will be more efficient than working with a shovel,” he adds. Lithium-ion cells for the device are produced in China.
Avtonomika does not disclose the supplier of electric motors, saying only that there are “virtually no components from unfriendly countries” in the device.
Street cleaning robots have been tested in several cities. In 2021, in Helsinki, Trombia Technologies reported testing an electric street robot vacuum cleaner 3.5 m long and 2.5 m wide. In 2023, WeRide tested the Robosweeper cleaner, made on the basis of a bus, in a special autonomous zone in Beijing.
“The robot receives its route assignment through the dispatch center. At the end of the work, he returns to the base on his own,” says Sergei Sobyanin’s blog. It also explains that if a person is on the route, the robot will stop, and will go around a car, scooter or stroller. Mr. Sividov confirmed to Kommersant that the robot recognizes dynamic objects, so it will stop when a dog or even a squirrel is on the route.
From the documentation it follows that the “Pixel” is capable of moving in several modes: autonomously “at given coordinates”, with remote control by a dispatcher, in the “Follow me” mode (for which there is a special mark in the kit) and manual mode when controlled from the remote control. The latter uses a joystick from the Sony Xbox game console. The Pixel's operating instructions say that when you press the "B" button, for example, the water pump "turns on at high speeds," and by pressing the "right bumper" you can brake the robot. Mr. Sividov said that the Xbox joystick is used as “the most common and inexpensive remote control on the market,” which can be easily replaced if broken. At the same time, he assured that an outsider with a similar joystick would not have access to control the robot - “the remote control needs hard firmware, and only our engineer can do this.”