• Unmanned electric street-sweeping machines are soon to appear on city streets. The Swiss company Bucher Municipal promises to make cleaning large outdoor areas greener, safer and more efficient, reports the weekly WirtschaftsWoche.

    "Sweepers move much more slowly than passenger cars. Accordingly, it is much easier to provide them with safe autonomous driving," says company spokesman Jussi Iltanen.

    According to him, the autonomous sweeper project could be implemented in a few years. Cameras and sensors as well as an on-board computer equipped with a map of the surroundings will be integrated into the autonomous sweepers. Moreover, the more difficult the surroundings, the more difficult the task for the machine. In enclosed areas it is much easier, such as tunnels, harbours, large car parks or amusement parks. But street cleaning remains a priority.

    The customers are mainly municipal companies, airports and industrial firms. They are interested in the autonomous machines, but are still cautious. It is not clear whether customers will queue up for autonomous machines that endanger their jobs. Experts estimate that fully autonomous cars are not likely to become widespread until 2040 at the earliest.