The Volvo Group is currently working on a joint venture together with Chalmers University of Technology and Mälardalen University in Sweden, Penn State University in the United States, and the waste recycling company Renova, to develop a robot that interacts with the refuse truck and its driver to accomplish the work.
The project is called ROAR, for Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling, and the goal is to introduce a robot that, with the help of instructions from a truck’s operating system, can collect refuse bins in a neighbourhood, bring them to a refuse truck and empty them. All of this occurs under the supervision of the refuse truck’s driver, who can thereby avoid heavy lifting.
The purpose of ROAR is to demonstrate how we, in the very near future, will use smart machines to assist with a broad range of activities in society. This technology can be applied in many areas.
“Within Volvo Group we foresee a future with more automation,” says Per-Lage Götvall, project leader for the Volvo Group. “This project provides a way to stretch the imagination and test new concepts to shape transport solutions for tomorrow.”
The three universities are part of Volvo Group’s Academic Partner Program, a network of twelve academic partners collaborating with Volvo for long-term cooperation in research and recruitment. The students have different tasks and roles.
Mälardalens University will design the robot itself. At Chalmers University, students will work on the overall operating system and at Penn State´s Thomas D.Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute the graphics, communication systems and control panel for the truck driver will be developed.
Students at Penn State’s Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute are developing the graphics, communication systems, and control panel for the truck driver.
“We’re very lucky to have an amazing cohort of students who are well trained in automation technologies,” said Sean Brennan, associate professor of mechanical engineering and leader of the Penn State team. “This project promises great opportunities for our students to not only engage with a cutting-edge vehicle project, but also to help define how society will interact daily with robotic systems.”
Plans call for the technology to be tested in June 2016 on a vehicle developed by the Swedish recycling firm Renova Environment.
The Volvo Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines. With production facilities in 19 countries, it is a publicly held company headquartered in Göteborg, Sweden.