RME – Road Marking Robot
Up until now, all transverse markings and symbols on the roadway have been applied manually, for example directional arrows, speed limits, road numbers and pedestrian crossings. This type of work demands a work force of at least two people. As the manual application demands that the work takes place on the road in the middle of traffic, one or more safety vehicles are needed, which means additional vehicles and personnel. The cost of this line of work is therefore substantial.
The Swedish Transport Administration aim for a zero tolerance, i.e. zero fatalities or serious injuries in traffic. They have defined automated or mechanical application of symbols and signs on the road to be an important project for creating “a safe workplace”. No later than 2015, the Swedish Transport Administration want to ensure “a safe workplace” on all protection rated roads in Sweden, i.e. all the roads covered by the Swedish Transport Administration responsibility. RME was contacted and together with a robotics company, we initiated the project four years ago.
Is it possible to combine “a safe workplace” with more efficient and cost effective application of transverse road markings?
Yes, we can.
Our solution – The RME Road Marking Robot
A 5-jointed robot arm in aluminium is mounted on the front of the vehicle. The five electric motors enable great accuracy and reliability.
The applicator itself is an extruder with 2×5 cm valves. The operator, who is also the driver of the vehicle, manages the robot and the working process from the cab.
The material system for the thermoplastics contains of a preheater on the truck platform with a pump system pumping the thermoplastic to the extruder via pipes and flexible hoses. A return system keeps the thermoplastic in motion, which contributes to an even temperature and high quality of the thermoplastic. The entire system is hot oil jacketed and the extruder has an extruder cleaning function like regular extruder units from RME. The thermoplastic flow and temperature is regulated and supervised by the operator inside the cab.
When arriving at the work site, the operator stops the truck and puts down the hydraulic outriggers. The operator can prepare and perform the application using the computerised program with a 12” user terminal with touch screen. With an integrated camera system, the operator can see on the terminal exactly how the selected symbol will be applied.
The software contains a symbol library in which you can select the right symbol and size. There is no need for pre-markings as the system automatically finds the center of the lane. The operator can manually move the symbol on the touch screen and adjust the final placement. This operation is also independent of the placement of the truck itself. Everything is displayed and controlled via the operator panel.
The painting itself takes a few minutes depending on the symbol selected. If the symbol is large, the application is performed in two steps where the truck is moved. In step 2 the system will find the part of the symbol that is already applied and continue to paint the remaining part of the symbol. Naturally, glass beads are continuously applied over the painted symbol.
It is possible to repair and enhance worn out symbols, which enables substantial cost savings.
Apart from a set symbol library, flexible solid lines can be applied with the robot.
After a symbol is applied, the crane is folded back into transport mode and the vehicle can be driven off to the next assignment.
- Safe workplace for the operator/road worker
- Cost efficient application of symbols
- Possibility of reparation and touch up of worn out symbols
- New symbols can be added to the library to accommodate customer needs or national regulations.
- Enhanced adhesion of thermoplastics on the roadway.
Short downtime without the need of lateral pre-markings and positioning of safety equipment also entails fast transportation between assignments.