Spanish researchers have developed a low cost system that allows turning every conventional vehicle into an automated system capable of learning from the environment.
The team from the University of Alicante is currently testing their concept at the university campus with a golf cart driving automatically around without a human intervention.
The team hopes the system could be of interest to companies operating large warehouses as it presents a qualitative improvement in automated delivery systems compared with existing systems established on previously defined fixed paths.
Unlike the inflexible older systems that use painted lines or lasers to navigate the automated vehicles from place to place, the invention of the Spanish team relies on interactive sensors to map the area and machine vision systems to navigate through the environment.
The system is thus capable to identify obstacles and moving objects in its surroundings and choose the optimal path to reach a certain point without colliding with other traffic.
Tomás Martínez Marín, the lead researcher on the project, said the team’s intention is to be able to convert any manually driven vehicle into a high-performing mobile robot to suit the working environment where it is going to operate, instead of having to adapt the environment to the vehicle.
Martínez Marín believes the approach of his team offers a more cost-effective solution.
The technology could be used in any business or industrial environment where autonomous vehicles could help move large volume of inputs and outputs from one place to another. It could work well especially in such environments that due to their extreme conditions don’t allow involvement of human workers.