Drone helps refuse- col­lect­ing ro­bot find bins

The Witness - Wheels - - ELECTRIC -

STU­DENTS from three univer­si­ties have col­lab­o­rated with the Volvo Group and the waste re­cy­cling com­pany, Ren­ova.

The re­sult is a ro­bot that au­to­mat­i­cally col­lects and emp­ties refuse bins. A drone on the roof of the refuse truck scans the area and helps the ro­bot to find the bins.

When it is time to be­gin waste col­lec­tion, the driver of the refuse truck presses a but­ton. This starts the ro­bot, and the drone si­mul­ta­ne­ously lifts from the roof of the truck.

Fly­ing through al­ley­ways, the drone quickly finds the lo­ca­tion of the refuse bins and com­mu­ni­cates their po­si­tions to the ro­bot.

This is fol­lowed by au­to­matic waste col­lec­tion and emp­ty­ing by the ro­bot. In the cab, the driver is able to mon­i­tor the ex­act lo­ca­tion of the ro­bot and the emp­ty­ing process.

The Roar pro­ject, Ro­bot-based Au­ton­o­mous Refuse han­dling, is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Volvo Group, Chalmers Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, Mälardalen Univer­sity, Penn State Univer­sity in the United States, and Ren­ova.

The ob­jec­tive of Roar is to demon­strate how smart ma­chines will soon be able to com­mu­ni­cate with each other to fa­cil­i­tate ev­ery­day life in a large num­ber of ar­eas.

“We pre­dict a fu­ture with more au­to­ma­tion,” says Per- Lage Götvall, pro­ject man­ager for ro­bot de­vel­op­ment in the Volvo Group.

“This pro­ject is in­tended to stim­u­late our imag­i­na­tion, to test new con­cepts that may shape trans­port so­lu­tions of the fu­ture.”

In tech­ni­cal terms, a pre­req­ui­site for the ro­bot’s work is that it al­ready knows the neigh­bour­hood in the form of a map of both the manoeuvrable area and likely bin lo­ca­tions.

The ro­bot then uses a num­ber of dif­fer­ent sen­sors to keep it­self po­si­tioned within this map, en­abling it to au­to­mat­i­cally per­form its tasks.

The sen­sors in­clude GPS, LiDAR ( a sys­tem sim­i­lar to radar but us­ing in­frared light in­stead of ra­dio waves), cam­eras, and IMU data, which uses ac­celer- ome­ters and gy­ro­scope for nav­i­ga­tion as well as odom­e­try, where mo­tion sen­sors mea­sure the po­si­tion changes over time.

“For us at the Volvo Group, the safety as­pect forms the ba­sis of ev­ery­thing we do,” says Götvall. “Ac­cord­ingly, many of the ro­bot’s sen­sors are also used to en­sure safety.”

One ex­am­ple is an emer­gency but­ton, which im­me­di­ately stops the ro­bot if, for ex­am­ple, a child or a dog runs out in front of it. An­other ex­am­ple is a cam­era on the truck that de­tects if some­one comes too close while the bins are be­ing emp­tied. If this oc­curs, the process au­to­mat­i­cally stops.

The stu­dents who worked on the pro­ject are all from univer­si­ties that are in­cluded in the Vol- vo Group’s Aca­demic Part­ner Pro­gramme, a net­work of 12 univer­si­ties with long- term re­search and re­cruit­ment col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Volvo Group.

It took stu­dents and re­searchers from the three par­tic­i­pat­ing univer­si­ties only four months to de­sign and build the pro­to­type ro­bot that au­to­mat­i­cally col­lects and emp­ties the refuse bins. — Sup­plied.

PER- LAGE GÖTVALL pro­ject man­ager ‘ This pro­ject is in­tended to stim­u­late our imag­i­na­tion, to test new con­cepts that may shape trans­port so­lu­tions of the fu­ture.’

PHOTO: VOLVO

It can only hap­pen in Swe­den. ‘ Rory’ the au­to­matic wheel­iebin col­lec­tor, is steered above by a drone and has sen­sors to stop mov­ing when it de­tects hu­mans.

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