11 July 2023

Meet 'Sweeping Beauty', Canberra's new fully electric street sweeper

| James Coleman
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Electric street sweeper

The ACT Government welcomed ‘Sweeping Beauty’ to its fleet this week. Photo: ACT Government.

Think of it like a big vacuum cleaner.

The ACT Government has welcomed a new street sweeper into the fleet this week, and for the first time, it’s powered by electricity.

Dubbed ‘Sweeping Beauty’ by the ground crew, it can pick up around 800 kilograms of leaves, debris and waste from paths and gutters for a total of nine hours, before needing to charge for three hours.

The City Renewal Authority (CRA) purchased it on behalf of the government as part of a commitment to create a “cleaner and greener” city.

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“Throughout the year, the machine will keep the city centre clean and beautiful by picking up leaf litter and scrubbing the footpaths and other paved areas,” place experience manager Jen Ramsay said.

“This helps shape perceptions among those who live, work and visit the city centre, encouraging return visits and supporting economic activity.”

The sweeper is said to be quieter than the traditional diesel-powered ones, which Ms Ramsay said also means it can start its work around the City Centre, Braddon and Dickson earlier “and clean more of the city centre before most people start their day”.

Electric street sweeper

Electric street sweeper Optimus Grime 2.0 was trialled earlier this year. Photo: City Renewal Authority (CRA).

It was funded through the City Centre Marketing Improvements Levy, a contribution made by commercial building owners throughout Civic and parts of Braddon to support the area’s “cleanliness, sustainability, and economic activity”.

This follows a trial in May 2022, when the government deployed several electric mowing and street-sweeping vehicles across Canberra.

The Evo mowers offered seven hours of running time (enough for 12 hectares, or 17 football fields), and the Eco Sweeper could run continuously for 10 hours and hold 2000 litres of waste.

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Earlier in 2023, they also trialled one called ‘Optimus Grime 2.0’, which was lightly modified by the CRA team with mag wheels and bubble decals.

“We … were very happy with how it performed its various functions,” Ms Ramsay said.

This latest edition might be limited to the city, but the government runs a street-sweeping program to remove leaves and debris from kerbs and gutters from across the ACT.

Every street is said to receive at least two full sweeps each year, with additional sweeps reserved for main roads and “areas of high leaf debris”.

Between May and August, efforts are concentrated in the inner north and south suburbs because of the larger number of deciduous trees.

See the full street sweeping schedule on the ACT Government website.

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Alvin Santos6:02 pm 14 Jul 23

This “street” sweeper is not meant for roads. The TCCS has had truck size street sweepers for years now that sweep streets at great speed (20 km/h). What you see here is a machine for pavements, sidewalks, pedestrians areas, open public spaces – narrow and tight places where you find people (including children) who walk, ride or scoot. A truck is too big and too heavy for paving. Your front driveway is built for just 3 tonnes. Drive a truck on a concrete footpath or shared bike path and it will crack. All that nice landscaping needs to be maintained, and the machine that does it cannot cause any damage.

kaleen_calous1:58 pm 14 Jul 23

Hope they enjoy the new toy! Does this mean they will actually be used? Canberra bike lanes in general are a safety hazard but Northbourne Avenue is borderline dangerous because of all the building works junk and tree detritus. Show off your shiny new toy with a public display on actual roads rather than promo puff pieces – that’s if the extension cord is long enough!

eGaz “eGaz” TheFirstAustralian4:43 pm 13 Jul 23

Does this mean finally we will have debris-free bike paths and lanes. Really?

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