With winter you only have a small window of time when snow contractors can get SnowBot onto the pavement and really run it through its paces. And when it doesn’t snow a lot, like Winter 2019-20 so far, it’s hard for the industry – like East Coast snow contractors – to really see the machine in action.
“It’s been an interesting challenge for this kind of machine as opposed to other types of snow [removal] equipment where [the contractor] is used to it and they understand it,” Olkin says. “This is new technology that has never been done before. I think there is still a learning curve and an educational process to really understanding how it works, what its limits are, and how to use it.”
Winter’s finicky nature was considered during the SnowBot's design phase so a mowing deck could be added allowing for SnowBot to seamlessly turn into a MowBot for year-round use.
“Robotic mowers are a little bit more understood and accepted, and for whatever reason there isn’t much “Will it work? Won’t it work?” Olkin says. “Snow is a lot tougher environment.”
Despite the weather setbacks, Left Hand Robotics and its SnowBot has drawn interest from large industry manufacturers, especially for the tech that makes it tick.
“A number of large OEM’s – the people who make this power equipment for the snow, construction or any [allied] industry – they’ve come to us … and want to put the tech on their [next generation] machines.”
Left Hand Robotics has named the platform BOLT. BOLT allows OEMs to launch faster, reduce R&D costs, and tap into a unified platform with navigation, sensors, controls, software and apps.
“We want to be the Windows of the power equipment industry and be the platform that people build on top of,” Olkin says.
Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine.