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42 T he latest advances in, and trials of, unmanned and autonomous ground vehicles reflect a growing pattern of demand for their use in public services and civil operations. While UGVs are becoming common in factories and other private-sector establishments, various technologies are emerging that will make them vital to the work of local governments and authorities around the world. Roadworks WJ, a UK-based company specialising in permanent road marking and temporary road pre-marking, has bought an undisclosed number of TinyPreMarker UGVs from their manufacturer TinyMobileRobots to augment its pre- marking services capacity. The UGV is capable of painting pre- marker road lines far quicker than human workers, with WJ’s tests finding that the TinyPreMarker (or the ‘WJ Robotic PreMarker’, as the firm has branded the UGVs under its ownership) capable of marking up to 30 km per shift, compared with 6 km per shift for human workers. “Part of that comes from the UGV being able to constantly self-verify its GPS position and to work without the need for breaks. Humans can’t paint and check their position at the same time, and by the time a land surveyor has made their first mark, the robot will have made five,” says Palle Flydtkjær, development engineer at TinyMobileRobots. The TinyPreMarker also makes for a safer workplace, as a worker can operate it at up to 500 m away from the road or from a truck behind it. “That means line-marking teams and traffic authorities don’t need to shut multiple lanes or entire highways when they’re working – they can close just one or two lanes,” Flydtkjær says. “We also offer an optional mount for integrating the spray can off the side of the UGV rather than in the middle down its back, for when it’s marking lines on the very edge of the kerb to denote waiting or stopping restrictions.” WJ initially had very little training with CAD or robotics, particularly in the context of surveying and pre-marking, but were able to get used to operating TinyMobileRobots’ tablet ground control station (GCS) for controlling the TinyPreMarker and the embedded project CAD software. As Flydtkjær explains, “The work files of these road construction projects are often prepared in formats such as .DXF, .XML or .CSV. They can be uploaded to the GCS so that the tablet can connect the job to the UGV. Civil servants April/May 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology The TinyPreMarker UGV from TinyMobileRobots is to be used in the UK to reduce the time and footprint of roadworks via automated line pre-marking Developers are now rolling out ground vehicles for a wide range of municipal duties. Rory Jackson reports on some key examples