There is a great demand for efficient material transport in many industrial environments, including construction and mining sites. A very promising solution is to employ autonomous mobile robots in the cycle of material handling; including loading, the actual transportation, and unloading of the material. An automated robotic solution has a great potential to offer improvements in terms of safety, costs, efficiency, reliability, and availability. Automation of the full material handling cycle is generally a very challenging task, and existing solutions require a substantial amount of operator assistance; such as defining fixed routes where the machine can drive and manually performing the bucket-filling procedure.
This is a joint project by Írebro University, Volvo Construction Equipment, and NCC Roads, which intends to continue developing a system for autonomous wheel loaders with the aim to perform all parts of material handling in a time- and energy-efficient way. In our previous collaborative work (the ALL-4-eHAM project) we have developed the essential building blocks of such a system.
The primary focus of the ALLO project will be the problems that an autonomous system faces during long-term operation. Other parts of the project deal with improving the performance of the tasks from ALL-4-eHAM and developing quantifiable and certifiable quality-evaluation criteria. The focus on long-term operation puts further weight on the need to develop consistent algorithms that produce correct results.
In particular, the following list outlines some important research topics that will be handled in the project.