Esimerkkikuva CONTAIn teknologiasta.

Two new innovative robots will be piloted in the Helsinki metropolitan area. One will be cleaning walls and the other helping to empty recycling bins. The pilots are part of the AutoMod-project and have been chosen through an innovation competition. 

Robots can perform many tasks in the near future, freeing people from repetitive work or executing machine based jobs independently. AutoMod – Autonomous Modulars -project is finding out what kind of circular economy related jobs could be handled by robots.

The ‘Practical prototypes’ innovation competition was held at the end of 2022 and two prototypes were chosen as the pilots. The solution from CONTAI combines a robot transport platform to a robot capable of moving recycling bins. Dimalog Oy pilot will be introducing a robot aimed at the removal of unwanted graffiti.

A mobile platform capable of transporting different kinds of autonomous utility robots has also been developed as part of the AutoMod project. The platform could move around the city in  parks, stations, parking lots or roadways delivering robots to perform their individual tasks where needed. Both the CONTAI and Dimalog robots can be transported by the platform.   

The pilots will aim to find out what kind of tasks could be tackled by these autonomous robot modules and what is required to operate them from the platform. The prototypes are being developed in the beginning of 2023 and pilot demonstrations will be held in Helsinki and Espoo during the spring.    

Gentle cleaning of walls by a robot

The Dimalog robot module utilises machine vision, a multi-purpose Omron TM12 cobot and cleaning tools connected to the robot. It recognises the unwanted smudges using machine vision, performs the cleaning work and informs its mother ship when it is ready.

The robot’s working time is inexpensive, so cleaning can be performed using different methods than those currently economically viable. For example, cleaning can be carried out gently, safeguarding the materials to be cleaned, saving resources (energy, water, detergents) and helping protect nature.

In addition, cleaning can be carried out in a closed system, where either water, hot steam or blasting granules circulate. This prevents harmful chemicals from ending up in nature and the used materials can be recycled. 

“In the past, we have delivered robot applications mainly to industrial customers. The urban environment offers new challenges, but also new opportunities. We hope this experiment creates new ideas and networks related to the smart city theme,” says Dimalog’s CTO Teemu Kytömäki.


Emptying recycling bins with the help of a robot

CONTAI’s solution combines a robot transporting platform with a mobile robot, whose work tasks and parts can be changed. The company wants to build an ecosystem that covers not only mobile robots but also the platform that transports them and other related devices.

In spring 2023, CONTAI will pilot a prototype of its technology and ecosystem. The experiment combines robotics with manual steps. During the test period, the robot collects recycling containers from yards along its route to the side of the road, where larger collection trucks collect or empty them. The agile mobile robot saves time and streamlines work by  sparing larger collection trucks from having to navigate narrow driveways or people having to fetch their containers from far away.

“If successful, the experiment could lead to an international breakthrough and new Finnish networked business, because similar system-level concept and technology based on sharing and circular economy has not yet been implemented elsewhere in the world,” says CONTAI founder Seppo Narinen.

Autonomous Modulars (AutoMod) –project pilots utility and service robots and a platform transporting them. The goal is to create a new kind of business ecosystem and platform in which utility robots can solve circular economy challenges in a smart city. 

Photo: Seppo Narinen
Translation: Kati Borgers