Robotics

Volvo's robots will quietly pick up and empty your garbage bin

Volvo is taking steps to improve its automation technology by helping develop autonomous garbage disposal robots which could hit the streets as early as next year
Volvo is taking steps to improve its automation technology by helping develop autonomous garbage disposal robots which could hit the streets as early as next year
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Volvo is taking steps to improve its automation technology by helping develop autonomous garbage disposal robots which could hit the streets as early as next year
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Volvo is taking steps to improve its automation technology by helping develop autonomous garbage disposal robots which could hit the streets as early as next year

Volvo has announced a collaboration with companies and universities in Sweden and the US on ROAR (Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling). The project aims to build robots that will assist garbage truck operators by doing all the heavy lifting for them, picking up and emptying refuse bins autonomously (under the driver's supervision) and as quietly as possible.

According to Volvo, Penn State University will develop the graphics, communication systems and control panel for the truck driver; Chalmers University students will work on the operating system; Mälardalens University will design the robot; and waste disposal company Renova will take care of the vehicle itself.

The robots, which judging from the illustration will be somewhat reminiscent of humanoids on a Segway, will take instructions directly from the truck's operating system and, supervised by the truck driver, will collect refuse bins straight from the sidewalk, bring them to the truck and empty them while keeping decibel levels at a minimum.

Volvo says this autonomous technology could be applied to many more areas, refuse collection being just the beginning. The automaker's involvement shouldn't come as a surprise in light of the company's recent interest in self-driving technology, which Gizmag got to experience first-hand.

"Within Volvo Group we foresee a future with more automation," says project leader Per-Lage Götvall. "This project provides a way to stretch the imagination and test new concepts to shape transport solutions for tomorrow."

The technology is planned to be first tested in June 2016. Then, though no such plans have been announced, the next step in automation could perhaps be to get rid of human intervention altogether through use of a self-driving truck.

Source: Volvo

8 comments
Bill Bennett
My garbage truck drivers never get out of the truck this really seems unnecessary.
amazed W1
Is this with the intention of genuine equal opportunities for men and women in the workplace? This technique would allow as many women to work the garbage as men, which is far from the situation now.
Bruce H. Anderson
Bill, you are spot on. I bet most drivers don't either (mine for sure don't). All we have to do is put the can at the curb. And it isn't that loud, but better muffling on the engine and the hydraulic pump would solve that. Most of the noise comes from dumping the garbage.
Stephen N Russell
Test this for the US alone, awesome Replace our 3 truck convoy for color coded cans alone Place into 1 mother truck for trash Must for So CA area.
Lbrewer42
And just think... our prices for garbage pickup will be used to pay for the new system. So while the driver gets to become fat and lazy, our prices will skyrocket.
Benchkey
We've come a long way from the French workers throwing their wooden sabot's into the machinery. While I like this idea, it makes me wonder how we will employ humans who presently do these jobs. Not trying to put anyone down, but garbage jobs were commonly filled by those who had only their backs and strong arms to offer. Unless technology figures out how to employ humans when replaced by technology such as this, we will have a huge population of unemployed/unemployable and a problem far larger than the present.
POOL PUMPREAPAIR guy longwood
They're fine the way they are, it's like the icecream truck. i can hear them coming so I can get my trash out for pickup.
natosoco
Another job bites the dust.