In May of this year, the world’s first self-driving car tunnel cleaning project landed in Nanjing. Two large self-driving sweeping vehicles appeared at the two tunnel entrances of Nanjing Yingtian Avenue Yangtze River Tunnel and Dinghuaimen Yangtze River Tunnel. Through automatic driving technology, two “big guys” completed the self-driving car tunnel cleaning project.
In charge of this project is the autonomous driving startup autowise.ai Xiantu Intelligent (hereinafter referred to as “Xiantu Intelligent”). Since this year, this company is implementing autonomous driving sanitation projects in more areas.
Before the establishment of Xiantu Intelligent in 2017, the company’s founding team had many years of experience in autonomous driving research and development. The sub-scenarios of domestic autonomous driving include trucks, logistics and sanitation, etc. Why does Xiantu Intelligent focus on the field of sanitation? In an exclusive interview with Jiemian News, the company’s partner and vice president of corporate development Liu Zhengkang said that the core reason is that they believe that autonomous driving applications in the field of environmental sanitation are a rigid demand rather than a “false proposition”.
In China, the average age of sanitation workers is 57 years old, which is older than other professional workers, and the demand for solving labor problems is the most obvious. Therefore, autonomous driving technology is easier to “scale” and “commercialize” in the vertical field of environmental sanitation.
At present, Xiantu intelligent self-driving sweeper covers indoor scrubbers and outdoor large, medium and small sanitation sweepers, and its products focus on L4 self-driving sweepers.
In terms of software products, the honeycomb system developed by the company can control all self-driving vehicles so that the sweeper can perform cleaning tasks in accordance with the established plan. In addition, the honeycomb system can record and analyze the operating time and operating mileage of the unmanned sweeper as a whole, and record operating data such as vehicle charging, water filling, and garbage dumping.
This is also one of the characteristics that distinguish sanitation autonomous driving from other scenarios. Liu Zhengkang explained that the sanitation autonomous driving technology must first solve the problem of cleaning, and secondly, it must cover a wide area.
This means that, on the one hand, it is necessary to carry out highly accurate positioning of vehicles and realize fine welt cleaning; on the other hand, it is necessary to use the system to realize the path planning of “the least vehicle coverage and the widest area” to improve efficiency and reduce Operating cost. Through the honeycomb system, the current Xiantu intelligent products can achieve a 50% increase in overall operating efficiency and a cost savings of more than 30%.
As for hardware planning, Xiantu Intelligent currently chooses to cooperate with equipment vendors for modification, mainly to provide autonomous driving technology solutions. It is worth mentioning that at present, Xiantu Smart’s self-driving vehicles are all new energy vehicles. Therefore, compared with traditional vehicles, one vehicle can save nearly 200 tons of carbon emissions a year.
In fact, autonomous driving in the field of sanitation is not just emerging. In 2017, a number of traditional car manufacturers began to set foot in this field, and autonomous driving companies have also tested the water one after another. For example, in September 2017, Zhixing and Baidu Apollo launched the country’s first unmanned sanitation vehicle; in November 2019, the Futian District Government of Shenzhen also launched the sanitation PPP project and launched a 5G sanitation robot.
However, Liu Zhengkang believes that the real outbreak is still after the 2020 epidemic-the problem of “difficulties in recruiting workers” has become prominent, and the industry has therefore returned to the essence of commercialization. Before the epidemic, Xiantu Intelligent’s annual revenue was between hundreds of thousands to one million, and this year’s revenue is expected to grow to tens of millions.
Following this is the scale of business. Up to now, Xiantu Intelligent has a business layout at home and abroad, and has invested more than 150 autonomous vehicles worldwide, concentrated in domestic first- and second-tier cities and overseas developed countries.
In order to promote the development of overseas business faster, Xiantu Intelligent established a joint venture with Bochung, the world’s top environmental sanitation equipment manufacturer, to operate and commercialize in countries with high industrialization and stricter quality requirements. In China, Xiantu Intelligent products have been put into use in paid operation projects in 20 cities. Recently, Xiantu Intelligent completed the delivery of the municipal project in Duisburg, Germany, and officially started the cleaning operation in a large logistics park with complex types of obstacles and a large number of obstacles.
But in terms of the overall market, although the scale of the sanitation field is large enough, there are many difficulties for autonomous driving companies to overcome. Liu Zhengkang concluded that before the advent of autonomous driving, the localized operation characteristics of the sanitation market were obvious, and the market was relatively fragmented. Therefore, it is not time to talk about “market share”.
Liu Zhengkang told Jiemian News that next, Xiantu Intelligent’s plan is to further expand its business scale and accumulate operational data to promote product iteration. In May of this year, Xiantu Intelligent completed the 120 million yuan B1 round of financing. According to reports, a new round of financing is also in progress.