Robot trash collectors could be coming to a neighborhood near you

By | October 15, 2015

It’s not trash talk — Volvo’s robots on wheels could soon be hauling away your garbage

Though they look like relatives of Disney’s Wall-E, Volvo has collaborated with recycling firm, Renova, and universities in Sweden and the U.S. to develop trash-collecting robots. These two-wheeled bots will be able to roll around a neighborhood, pick up waste bins, and chuck garbage into the back of a refuse truck and move on down the street.

The project, called Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling, or ROAR for short, imagines the robots quietly getting rid of trash without the usual sounds of crashing garbage pails, and will eliminate the trouble of heavy lifting for the truck’s driver.

Volvo_Trash_Bots_Sketch

An artist’s description of how the garbage-collecting robots might operate. Image source: Volvo Group

In Sweden, roboticists at the Chalmers University of Technology will be responsible for developing the overall operating system for ROAR. Students at Mälardalen University, also located in Sweden, will be designing and building robots that are capable of moving discreetly and efficiently from house to house, and will be sure they’re strong enough to lift heavy bins. As for Penn State University in the U.S., students will design the virtual system and control panel that the truck drivers will need to keep tabs on the trash-toting bots, because even though they’re autonomous to an extent, the robots will still be under the driver’s control.

Thanks to the instrumental involvement of academic institutions and Volvo’s own emphasis on entrusting students with key developmental tasks, the project should help jumpstart research and education, if nothing else. According to Renova, plans to put the technology for these partially autonomous trash bots into action will be tested on a vehicle it’s developing for this purpose in the summer of 2016.

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Source: Live Science

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