Garbage collection is one of those jobs that you’d quickly notice if someone wasn’t doing it – but it’s also not one that many people would volunteer for.
But in the same way that drivers, secretaries and travel agents are quickly looking like they’re headed onto the occupational scrap heap, it looks like the garbage man’s days are numbered too.
Volvo has been working with a waste recycling company, plus three universities, to come up with the ultimate automatic rubbish robot.
The design set upon uses a drone that launches from the roof of the garbage truck and flies around looking for cans that need emptying. It then lets the ‘Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling’ system, ‘Roary’ for short, know so it can get collecting.
Roary is loaded with sensors, including GPS, infrared radar, cameras, accelerometers and gyroscopes so it can navigate to its destination, avoid obstacles and collect its load.
The team have to ensure they’ve mapped the relevant area before they begin but Roary also has an emergency stop function if something goes wrong – like a kid getting in the way.
The prototype took the researchers from Mälardalen University, Chalmers University of Technology and Penn State University just four months to build.
Volvo said it predicts a future with a lot more automation and has a dedicated robot team within the company working on projects like this.