Google, Dyson Announce Self-Driving Street Sweeper
Mountain View, CA & Wiltshire, UK – April 2015
James Dyson, Director of Dyson Company, and Lawrence E. Page, CEO of Google, made a joint announcement concerning the development of the AutoSweep 4115, the first ever self-driving sweeper.
The driverless street sweeper will become available in the 3rd quarter of 2015.
The Google/Dyson self-driving Auto-Sweep 4115 sweeper project was spearheaded by the Google Advanced Technology Division, while the Dyson Vacuum Consortium developed the associated sweeping system. The integrated sweeper design is the first entry by noted air technology leader Dyson into the field of large scale vacuum systems.
The software powering the Google/Dyson sweepers is called Google Chauffeur.TM The project is currently being led by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View. Thrun's team at Stanford created the robotic vehicle 'Stanley,' which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and its US$2 million prize from the United States Department of Defense. The team developing the system consisted of 15 engineers working for Google, and the vacuum system was designed by a U.K. team of 11 engineers at the Dyson headquarters in Wiltshire, U.K.
"Legislation has been passed in four U.S. states and Washington, D.C. allowing driverless cars," said Thrun. "The first driverless trials of the prototype AutoSweep 4115 units are slated to begin in the U.S. state of Nevada by June of this year. Pending the outcome of those trials, AutoSweep 4115 production units will be for sale starting in the third quarter of 2015. Pricing is expected to be approximately $240,000 for a base model unit."
Initial sales are expected to center around Nevada and the other three states to currently allow driverless vehicle technology, Florida, California and Michigan. Although the city of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho in 2014 adopted a robotics ordinance that includes provisions to allow for self-driving vehicles, according to the Dyson/Google press release there are no current plans to enter the Idaho marketplace.
The Google/Dyson AutoSweep 4115 has neither a steering wheel nor pedals. Because of its robotic operation, the sweeper will be able to sweep between parked cars and other obstacles much closer than a human operator is able to do. In addition, the AutoSweep's 360-degree sensor array is being touted as much more safe than may be attained through human operation. Plus, since there is no operator to be subject to Federal Highway Safety Administration regulations on driver hours of operation, the AutoSweep 4115 will be able to operate longer at a time, as well as with an increased level of safety.
Air pickup for the sweeper is powered via the purpose-built vehicle's CNG propulsion engine, specifics of which have not been disclosed. However, the multi-patented, Dyson-designed vacuum system will include a 10-year warranty on the entire pickup system with a guarantee of less than 5% loss of suction over that timeframe. Collection hopper is 3.1 cubic meters (4.05 cu. yd.) in size and debris will offload via Dyson's recently patented Force-Frame Debris Ejection System.TM
The Dyson spokesperson, Roger Fredrickson, said "The AutoSweep 4115 street sweeper eliminates the need for multiple machines of different size to do the same job. To adapt to any size street, the undercarriage parallel to the cleaning unit can be extended from 140cm to 300cm (8.54 cu. in. to 18.31 cu. in). The combination of horizontally and vertically rotating brushes ensures an optimal cleaning coverage at the curbstone in addition to under the sweeper itself. Another innovative advancement is an extendable vacuum arm for detailed cleaning under park benches, etc. as well as between cars and in other tight spaces
For more information, we invite you to download the specifications information about the Dyson/Google AutoSweep 4115 as a PDF file. Alternatively, go to the website page for the driverless sweeper, located at www.Sweeper.Google.com.
Editor's Note: In 2018, Shanghai, China launched what was billed as the 'world's first driverless sweeper trucks. Check out the YouTube video showing the vehicle in action.