Espoo pilots Trombia autonomous street sweeper

  • March 22, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

The first commercial pilot of the autonomous Trombia Free street sweeper has started in the city of Espoo in Finland.

A bicycle path in Espoo is being cleaned fully automatically and with 85% less energy consumption. Commercial pilots will roll out through early 2021 to kick-start greener and more sustainable city cleaning.

Finnish street maintenance technology developer Trombia Technologies launched the full-power autonomous street sweeper in September 2020. From this month onwards, Trombia Free steps into a commercial pilot programme, starting with the city of Espoo, and with more to be announced.

“We are thrilled to start the pilot programme with the city of Espoo,” said Antti Nikkanen, CEO of Trombia Technologies. “When we think about the over three million CO2 metric tons of carbon emissions that high power diesel-fuelled suction street sweepers around the world produce annually, we see that smart cities around the world can act to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions significantly by modernising the way street cleaning is made.”

The current vehicle technology relies on suction performance that was invented in the 1950s. Trombia Free cleaning devices use less than 15% of the power required by heavy suction sweeping technologies. With the globally patented Trombia technology, cities will be able to take down the power requirement without compromising the quality and effectiveness.

Trombia Free units are equipped with all-weather autonomous, lidar-based machine-vision technology that filtrates the noise coming from the environment in rainy, snowy or other conditions. The algorithm development has been carried out to absorb data on objects from various sources and to generate millions of illustrations of the object at once. This enables accurate and safe localisation in all weather condition.

During the pilot in Mankkaa, Espoo, autonomous functions and machine vision will be tested, as well as different ways to integrate the autonomous sweeper with other logistics.

“Espoo is eager to act as a pilot for this new technology that supports our goals,” said Harri Tanska, a director from the city of Espoo. “According to the green deal of working machines, we promote low-emission and zero-emission technology. Traffic autonomy is developing and Trombia Free, which utilises technology developed in Espoo, is a great opening on this front. As the new technology enables even better results in street cleaning, it was clear we want to be part of the pilot.”

The results of the pilot will be published to benefit further development and to gather data for the innovative pay-per-square metre business model that will allow contractors and operators to adopt Trombia Free faster than such technologies are normally adopted.

“As the spring moves forward, pilot programmes in international traffic and heavy-industry sites are to be announced,” added Nikkanen. “Full-power cleaning is also a work safety issue for heavy industrial sites and with Trombia Free this can be delivered effectively, autonomously and carbon free. To stop the climate crises is a common mission and we need new powerful innovations on a global level to stop it. Trombia Free unlocks the potential for mass-electrification and carbon-neutralisation of the whole street sweeping industry.”