by Brianna Crandall — October 29, 2018 — In response to market demand, Longmont, Colorado-based Left Hand Robotics is initiating production of SnowBot Pro, which the company claims is the first commercial-class self-driving, snow-clearing robot. The company points out that robots are ideally suited for the repetitive and physically taxing task of snow removal. A single SnowBot Pro can reportedly complete the work of 14 shovelers in the same amount of time.
Commercial snow management companies, municipalities and facilities managers (FMs) over large education, health-care or corporate campuses can reduce their labor costs for snow removal by up to 80%, says the company. Recent seed financing led by Heroic Ventures will expand the team and scale production.
Terry Olkin, CEO and co-founder of Left Hand Robotics, stated:
SnowBot Pro is changing how snow management operators plan for snowstorms. It can start as soon as the snow falls and run without supervision throughout the storm so sidewalks are always clear; this is critical for hospitals, airports, business and academic campuses, retail shopping centers, and municipalities. Late nights and long hours spent shoveling increase the chance of injury, and labor has always been a highly unpredictable cost for this industry. SnowBot Pro is a fixed cost that can pay for itself in the first year.
SnowBot Pro is smart and connected to the cloud, explains Left Hand Robotics. GPS-controlled, it follows a pre-programmed path unassisted to clear sidewalks and bike paths with down-to-the-inch accuracy. Technologies include LIDAR and RADAR sensors that detect obstacles and allow SnowBot to drive itself safely. Onboard cameras automatically take before and after pictures included in post-action job reports, and monitoring systems allow an operator to monitor the SnowBot in real time from the web or a mobile device.
SnowBot can pre-treat sidewalks ahead of a storm and apply solid or liquid deicer immediately after clearing snow. About the size of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), its compact size is specifically engineered to maneuver sidewalks with ease.
According to the company’s FAQs page, the SnowBot employs a multitude of sensors that are constantly looking for unexpected obstacles such as people, cars, or other objects, and will pause until a person has passed, or stop if it senses another obstacle. The local operator and the Support Expert will each get an alert, and can get more information, including real-time photos. Depending on the obstacle, the operator can either remove the obstacle (e.g., a trash can in the way) or can manually drive the robot around the obstacle.
Matt Robinson, founder and managing partner of Heroic Ventures, an early Left Hand Robotics investor and the lead for the Seed round, noted:
We invest in visionary companies with the potential to impact huge industries. Left Hand Robotics is bringing the first autonomous robot to the commercial snow management market. In just two years they have designed and launched software and robots that virtually eliminate snow shoveling. The team is incredible and focused on delivering the world’s most advanced robotics technologies and software management systems.
Others participating in the Series Seed round include Hardware Club, PV Ventures and Stout Street Capital.
SnowBot Pro will be produced in Colorado, and delivery begins late 2018. Today, snow management operators can calculate their Return on Investment (ROI) on a SnowBot Pro purchase based on their current costs for manual snow removal.
Reservations to purchase the SnowBot are being taken for the 2018-19 snow season. Customers will also purchase an annual software subscription. To use the ROI Calculator and see SnowBot Pro in action, visit the Left Hand Robotics website.