Following a fall 2019 license agreement between RoadPrintz Inc. and Case Western Reserve University, the company is now building a prototype street-painting vehicle to demonstrate to leading national industry partners that the technology can provide street-painting cheaper, faster and with significantly less risk to road-workers.
RoadPrintz incorporated technology created at Case Western Reserve into a special truck equipped with a robotic arm that applies hot paint that dries quickly, allowing the work to be done in a fraction of the time. Instead of stencils, the system uses a computer-controlled painting system analogous to a printer. The truck can paint road markings (transverse markings, diagonals, bike symbols, school-zone markings, turn arrows) for one-third the cost. And the process is safer because RoadPrintz workers don’t need to leave the truck.
Chief Executive Officer Sam Bell, a retired auto mechanic and shop owner, and Chief Technology Officer Wyatt Newman, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the university with an expertise in robotics, have parlayed their proof-of-concept into ongoing financial support from Lorain County Community College’s GLIDE fund, the State of Ohio’s Technology Validation Startup Fund and, most recently, Case Technology Ventures (CTV).
“As the university’s venture-capital fund focused on creating new businesses based on technologies developed at CWRU, CTV is the ideal mechanism for demonstrating our support for one of our own technology opportunities,” said Michael Haag, managing director of CTV and executive director of the university’s Technology Transfer Office.
CTV recently approved an investment of $100,000 in RoadPrintz, with an option to invest up to $250,000. In addition, the National Science Foundation this month awarded RoadPrintz a Small Business Innovation Research grant of about $225,000 to further develop the robotic street-marking technology.
Product validation work is continuing locally this summer in conjunction with The Lab @ Cuyahoga County, which has connected RoadPrintz with the Cleveland Metroparks to test its operator-driven, mobile robotic pavement-marking system on parking areas in the Euclid Creek Reservation.