A little driverless vehicle has been cruising two Christchurch motorways, making it safer and faster for our road crews.
The Tiny Robot line marker travels at 4km/h for up to eight hours a day, automatically marking points and lines ready for the line marker, without stopping for lunch.
Tiny Robot has proven itself on the Christchurch Southern Motorway Site of the Future® project (CSM2) and on the Christchurch Northern Corridor (CNC). Each highlighted a different benefit.
“As a live traffic site with cars next to us doing 70km/h, CSM2 could be pretty challenging at times,” says Survey Department Manager Hayden Gibbons.
“On that project, Tiny Robot helped keep our people away from the ‘line of fire’. It’s helping ‘engineer out’ the possibilities of being exposed on a motorway.”
On the Christchurch Northern Corridor, Tiny’s main benefit was its time saving, especially as pressure came on to meet the Christmas 2020 completion date.
“With the tight time frame we managed to set out approximately 65 km of line marking in a week which, if we’d been doing it the traditional way would have taken considerably longer, and involved a number of people,” says Engineer Matt Couper.
While the bigger the project, the greater its benefit, Tiny Robot can be of value on various sizes of jobs. For example, it’s currently being used in a container layout for an inland port, marking out 400 container bays.
Hayden says, initially, some people thought Tiny Robot might have been a “bit of a gimmick”.
“Tiny has well and truly proved itself – the time and cost savings, and the increase in safety are huge,” he says.
Matt says he wouldn’t want to go back to manually setting out line marks, particularly on long sections of road.
“I started with the Survey Department in 2020 and haven’t had much to do with manually setting out line marks. Man I’m glad I didn’t have to do it the old way – it’s such a breeze working with the robot,” says Matt.
Tiny Robot uses a standard Trimble GPS receiver linked to an Android tablet into which the data is downloaded. Hayden says the three pre-requisites are good quality data, cellphone coverage and an open sky.