The City of Windsor Goes Robotic!


Popular belief is that a robot is a human-like appliance capable of independent thought and action. This is a very narrow representation of what Isaac Asimov defined when he coined the expression. He would readily agree with the later portion of this statement, but would not restrict the form of such a device to that of an android. Robots are not defined by their form, but by the way they fulfil their function, whatever that may be.

In keeping with the idea that a robot is a device which once taught a task can accurately and reliably replicate that task without human interaction brings us to the innovation being pioneered in Windsor, Ontario. The City of Windsor has embarked upon a project in association with Schmidt-Nido and Amaco Equipment, by becoming the first municipality in North America to automate their thawing and traction control operations. They have done this pioneering work using the Schmidt Autologic system.

The Autologic system makes use of the Stratos spreader GPS capability and closed loop feedback control system. With the introduction of a single handheld GPS device connected to the CL controller in the cabin, the supervisor or driver can program routes, widths and dosages. The software links these to GPS co-ordinates and creates the desired route. Once programmed, the driver only needs to load the hopper, complete a circle check and switch the unit ON. After that, through audio and visual cues the driver can concentrate on navigating the route while the spreader reliably fulfils the application requirements.

According to Pete Matheson, City Maintenance manager, "We have several issues associated with winter maintenance including contract verification, reliability of application, liability, driver proficiency and MTO requirements. The more we can do to ensure our application dosages are consistent and the less distracted the equipment operators are, the more reliable our winter response will be, and coincidentally the more fiscally and environmentally responsible it will be."


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