Transport Canada tests the world’s first 100% electric snowplow and salting robot


[00:02 – 00:06]
We live in an exciting time where there is all sorts of sidewalk robotics that are under development.

[00:07 - 00:11]
My name is Mark Robbins, I am the manager of venture projects at the Transport Canada Innovation Centre.

[00:12 - 00:17]
The Innovation Centre at large is responsible for essentially doing the R & D projects for the department.

[00:18 – 00:42]
The Innovative Solutions Canada program will actually triage which companies are essentially the most promising, the most technologically ready and the like. They introduced us to Swap, who is a Canadian start up, so we decided to conduct a trial at Tunney’s Pasture in downtown Ottawa. This gives our technical teams the opportunity to be close to the work and to be able to input to it, while providing Swap the opportunity to receive feedback and technical advice.

[00:43 – 01:05]
It moves on six wheels, like a Rover does, and has lights on it so that people are able to see it, back up sounds like you would experience on a normal piece of equipment, emergency stop buttons, and operates with a series of cameras and computer vision to allow it to identify obstacles, including people and pets and bicycles and things like that, and avoid them.

[01:06 – 01:12]
We give them feedback on essentially what can be improved and we, as a department, learn more about the cutting edge.

[01:13 – 01:33]
The Swap Robotics are intended principally for sidewalks. They are typically battery charged, so as a side advantage the batteries are clean technology. So, they have no carbon emissions. The robots also plow snow a lot more quietly than regular snowplows, a very important advancement for dense urban areas where noise can travel.

[01:34 – 01:50]
This project will help TC going forward because it is helped us to establish a model for collaboration through the Innovative Solutions Canada program, and so there is a lot of interest in labour saving innovations or things that can turn one person’s labour into a wider impact of many.

[01:51 – 02:03]
All sorts of projections suggest that we are going to see more and more types of robots on the sidewalks. So, it is really important for us to have conducted this trial because now we know it is coming, and we have a sense of how to respond.

[02:04 – 02:06]
I think, ultimately, this will make Canadian cities much more livable.