Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks have become a daily necessity. However, masks also present new challenges for public health and sanitation. Contaminated masks may harbor viruses, endangering the health of sanitation workers. The sanitation industry already faces labor shortages and recruiting difficulties due to long working hours.
In large distribution centers where goods are being stacked, discarded masks are often missed by cleaners. Autowise.AI’s autonomous sweepers can complete contactless cleaning to pick up masks; they draw on deep learning to identify different types of waste and improve cleaning efficiency and quality.
Autowise.AI’s autonomous sweepers provide comprehensive intelligent sanitation services for road cleaning and urban beautification. Their autonomous sweepers have already been deployed in 20 cities globally, with outstanding results. In Q1 2022, Autowise.AI reached tens of millions of yuan in revenue. They also signed contracts totaling hundreds of millions of yuan, representing 10x year-over-year growth.
Leading the Smart Sanitation Industry with Autonomous Sweepers
Autonomous sweepers can improve the efficiency of cleaning operations while also lowering cost. “We believe that urban cleaning is the perfect scenario to introduce autonomous driving technology,” said Liu Zhengkang, Partner and Vice President of Enterprise Development at Autowise.AI. “The market for autonomous cleaning is very broad,with revenue potential in the hundreds of billions."
Liu points out that urban cleaning operates under simple road conditions and at low driving speeds, making it easier to achieve road safety. As a result, autonomous cleaning can be readily deployed and quickly scaled for larger operations. As the technology continues to mature, it’s anticipated there will be an explosion of different applications that use autonomous driving solutions in the next 3-5 years.
Founded in 2017, Autowise.AI began with robotaxi technology before tackling robotruck technology through the development of largesanitation vehicles. In 2018, Autowise.AI entered the autonomous cleaning market and launched the world's first fleet of autonomous sweepers. In 2019, the company was granted a Shanghai robotruck test license and increased its smart sanitation-related projects. At present, Autowise.AI has become a market leader in the smart sanitation industry, its products and services having been commercialized in Switzerland, Germany, the United States, and 20 cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Suzhou. In total, the company has deployed more than 150 autonomous sweepers.
In addition to urban roads, Autowise.AI also applies autonomous driving technology to special operational scenarios such as tunnels, ports, viaducts, and airport runways. “Our special scenario projects in Nanjing Yangtze River tunnel, Shanghai Central viaduct, Zhengzhou Xinzheng airport, and Wilhelmshaven, Germany are the first implementations of autonomous cleaning technology." Liu Zhengkang said.
In the future, Autowise.AI will develop new business models, accelerating the commercialization of autonomous cleaning in overseas markets such as the Middle East, Belgium, Australia, and New Zealand. The company anticipates the number of its vehicle deliveries to increase by 10-fold, with contracts totaling over a billion yuan level.
Developing and Innovating Smart Cleaning Solutions
Autowise.AI has rich operational experience and a commanding 70%+ market share in the autonomous cleaning field. Its autonomous sweepers operate within cities on a daily basis.
Autowise.AI’s autonomous sweepers are equipped with an “AV-Kit”. This ensures the vehicles operate according to specifications, drive accurately and close to roadsides, show courtesy to other traffic participants, and observe general traffic order. The sweepers can also allocate energy based on need. For example, they can slow down in important areas to vacuum up dust at high power, or quickly pass through less important areas. This improves the energy utilization efficiency by 30%.
Autowise.AI has accumulated deep perception expertise to build robust obstacle detection solutions and ensure its autonomous sweepers can accurately identify and classify various obstacles and waste. In March 2022, the joint laboratory between Autowise.AI and HKUST (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) published a paper on monocular 3D detection tasks, which was accepted by CVPR 2022 (Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition).
In terms of planning and control, Autowise.AI has achieved rapid scenario prediction and flexible switching in different complex urban scenarios. The company will use simulation deduction to continually iterate and optimize the system, which will help Autowise.AI meet the development needs of different autonomous driving scenarios.
Autowise.AI's existing technology has achieved high-precision positioning (<3cm, far higher precision than the typical <10 cm for passenger cars). Due to the edge cleaning demand of <3cm, it refreshes every 20 milliseconds, with shorter delays. Autowise.AI’s all-scenario technical capabilities will support its business to expand into urban logistics, intelligent transportation, and terminal distribution fields to provide more comprehensive autonomous driving services to customers.
Outstanding Perception System Helps Autonomous Sweepers Work Intelligently
The smart cleaning solution provides technical assurance for Autowise.AI’s autonomous sweeping operations. The sweepers are equipped with an outstanding perception system to ensure high environmental awareness under different road conditions. Hesai’s XT series lidar provide reliable detection for Autowise.AI’s sweepers. They enable accurate object identification and avoidance, ensuring efficient, safe operations in complex environments.
Hesai’s XT series is thoughtfully designed for the robotics market. It offers high precision, zero blind range, and high cost-effectiveness. Compared to typical 16-channel mid-range lidar sensors, XT32 has a higher laser count of 32 channels, doubling the resolution. It also features high ranging precision (1σ) of 5 mm, which meets the requirement for accurate operations in smart sanitation applications. Furthermore, XT’s laser transmit-receive module is based on Hesai’s proprietary lidar chip, which greatly improves performance while lowering costs.
XT series sensors also have “zero blind range”, meaning that even when an object directly touches the sensor’s enclosure, the lidar can still output valid point cloud data. This makes surface and occlusion detection possible. It also allows the sweepers to avoid potholes, gaps, edges, and corners to flexibly deal with various road conditions.
Furthermore, Hesai’s XT adoptsredundancy design and independent configuration of multiple systems to greatly reduce failure probability and maintenance costs. XT has passed dozens of reliabilities tests and has a designed lifetime of over 30,000 hours under typical working conditions.
“Hesai lidar have excellent comprehensive performance, which can help our sweepers work safely.” said by Dong Chengzhi, Chairman of Autowise.AI’s technology committee.
Hesai’s XT series lidar have won high praise from Autowise.AI for its exceptional all-around performance. As Liu Zhengkang noted: “We will constantly apply autonomous driving technology in all scenarios and gradually expand our commercial plan. With our long-term partnership with Hesai, we hope to explore more scenarios such as urban logistics, smart transportation, and terminal distribution together in the future, providing more comprehensive autonomous driving services.”