Anyone who has shoveled snow will tell you that it’s back-breaking. But maybe you don’t have to do it anymore thanks to the new SnowBot Pro from Left Hand Robotics, a commercial-class, self-driving robot whose sole purpose is to clear the snow so that you don’t have to. Including walkways, driveways and sidewalks, the SnowBot does it all.
The SnowBot Pro robot was initially intended for use in residential areas, but the team soon realized that the machine would be better suited for commercial applications. “Snow and ice management companies, property managers, government agencies, etc. all face significant labor challenges when it comes to sidewalk and pathway work in the winter,” Mike Ott, chief technology officer of Left Hand Robotics told OEM Off-Highway last fall. “Securing the necessary labor force on short notice, in harsh conditions, for strenuous, dangerous snow removal work is very difficult.”
SnowBot Pro can handle the job and then some. This robotic vehicle follows a programmed path that is determined by GPS, gyroscope and accelerometer technologies, and can be controlled remotely using an online dashboard. In order to actually remove snow, the SnowBot Pro uses a 4-foot-wide rotating brush, and is able to reduce the number of people needed for shoveling by up to 80 percent.
How? SnowBot Pro is able to navigate and detect unexpected obstacles even without a human operator present. The bot leverages high-precision GPS RTK technology in order to make its way up, down, and around streets. According to Ott, human contractors will first “record” the sidewalks and paths the bot will ultimately take using a special tool. And you don’t even have to wait for snow and winter to do the recording. These paths are then uploaded to Left Hand Robotics’ cloud-based operations center, where they’re turned into a series of commands that the machine uses to drive itself.
When we get snow, the gas-powered SnowBot needs only a human to open an app on his or her smartphone and press start. The robot will do the rest. The SnowBot Pro is currently in production for the 2018-2019 season, and people willing to pay a $1,000 deposit will be able to hold their spot in line to order one of these robots once they’re made available.