WeRide Robosweeper S1 Claims To Be The World’s First L4 Driverless Sweeper

By automotive-mag.com 4 Min Read

Until driverless cars roam the streets of the world like we were promised numerous times by forward-looking vintage movies and automaker leaders alike, we have to make do with the next best thing: an autonomous sweeper. 

Yes, we know, that’s not exactly glamorous, but according to Guangzhou-based autonomous tech startup WeRide, its Robosweeper S1 is the world’s first Level 4-capable autonomous driving sanitation equipment capable of dealing with all scenarios on open roads.

It’s also on sale now for an undisclosed price, and WeRide already signed contracts with “multiple partners” that amounted to “nearly tens of millions of dollars” in orders, the company claims.

The Robosweeper S1–the 1 stands for 1 ton–is 101.1 inches long (excluding brushes) and has a minimum turning radius of 106.3 in. It’s available in three versions–Air, Pro, and Max–and features a 400-liter water tank, as well as a 240-liter garbage bin.

However, the most striking thing about the Robosweeper S1 is that it has a big slab of black material instead of a conventional windshield. That’s because there’s nobody inside the vehicle.

We don’t know if the robot sweeper actually has any pedals or a steering wheel, but according to the SAE levels of driving automation table, a Level 4-capable vehicle may or may not have pedals and a steering wheel installed. The sensors and software suite can also drive the vehicle under limited conditions and will stop the machine if all the required conditions are not met.

And here’s where things get a little nuanced. As you probably noticed at the beginning of the article, WeRide claims that the Robosweeper S1 can deal with all scenarios on open roads. The video embedded above also shows the little electric sweeper doing its thing on what looks like a road. The problem is, that the same company casually buried the word “non-motorized” somewhere deep in its official press release. That’s your typical sidewalk where, you know, cars aren’t allowed.

WeRide Robosweeper S1

WeRide Robosweeper S1 (left) and Robosweeper S6 (right)

WeRide Robosweeper S1

“WeRide Robosweeper S1 can be effortlessly deployed in scenes such as parks, sidewalks, greenways, [and] non-motorized lanes, delivering efficient and high-quality unmanned sweeping and dust suppression services,” the startup said.

The Chinese company doesn’t mention how big the battery of its sweeper is or how fast it can charge, but it said that it can operate on an area of up to 1,291 square feet (120,000 square meters) on a full charge and that it can automatically dump garbage and park.

WeRide also has the driverless Robosweeper S6 in its portfolio, which is bigger than the S1 and can be deployed on main urban roads. However, the S6 isn’t on sale yet, though over 50 prototypes were built and tested, according to the developer’s website.

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