"Imagine a robot that quietly and discreetly enters your neighborhood, ... It is done without waking the sleeping families..." It may sound very much like something from a menacing sci-fi movie about robots, but it's really about something a lot friendlier that actually looks very much like Pixar's Wall-E!
These are actually the opening lines from Volvo's press release announcing a joint venture to demonstrate how the near (more automated) future already brings the possibility of having smart machines assisting humans with various activities.
They named the project ROAR (Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling) and their goal is to introduce a robot that, supervised by the refuse truck's driver, collects refuse bins in a neighborhood, brings them to a refuse truck and empties them.
In Sweden, Chalmers University of Technology is handling the development of software and Mälardalen University is handling the hardware, while in the US, at Penn State´s Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute the graphics, communication systems and control panel for the truck driver will be developed.
"It is exciting that we are combining advanced research with our training in robotics," says Mikael Ekström, projectleader. "Many students will work on this project, and it is a huge opportunity for them to learn both the technology and how to work in teams and in a real industrial context."
The teams predict their work will be concluded by June 2016, which is also when the technology will be tested on a vehicle developed by Renova.