It may be a long ways off, but this new demo of robotic trash collection may provide a glimpse into the future of garbage days. Sponsored by Volvo and Swedish waste management company Renova, this new fusion of aerial and ground-based robotics is called the ROAR project (RObot-based Autonomous Refuse handling).
Headlined by researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Mälardalen University in Sweden and Penn State, the ROAR system uses a drone to survey an area when a truck pulls up at a full trash can. The drone identifies the trash can and maps out the route for the ground robot (ROARY) to take to successfully align itself for a rendezvous with the trash can.
The ground unit then picks up the trash can and delivers it to the garbage truck for deposit all the while using LIDAR and on board sensors to avoid both static and dynamic obstacles.
You can check out the full system in operation in the video below.
Obviously, this system is still inferior to a man coming to your house every week, but the proof of concept and the accuracy of the ROARY ground unit is undeniable – there is enormous potential here.
What’s more is the fact that the team used a Parrot AR 2.0 drone as their aerial vehicle. That’s ancient technology! (circa 2012)
Watching the video, it’s clear safety was an emphasis during this project’s development. A stronger drone can be equipped with LIDAR similar to the system on board the ROARY and/or image recognition and recording cameras like the one mounted on the back of the garbage truck.
This would provide the ROAR project with a secondary and even tertiary pair of eyes, with a wider periphery, to warn the ground unit of stationary or mobile, in coming obstacles.
Redundant safety systems like this are the key to getting people to trust autonomous robots.
What do you think? Would you let/like a robot team picking up your garbage? Let us know in the comments!
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com