New Wall-E style robot aims to make our streets cleaner

refuse-robotThere has often been a disconnect between the kind of robots depicted in popular culture with the kind of robots that have gained traction in modern life.  For instance, the robot used in the Hollywood blockbuster Wall-E has more in common with ET than most robots in action today.

At least, that is until a recent collaboration between Volvo Group and universities in Sweden and the United States.  They have developed a robot that they plan to put to use making our streets and neighborhoods cleaner.

Keeping streets clean

The project known as ROAR (or robot-based autonomous refuse handling) is the work of Chalmers University of Technology and Mälardalen University in Sweden, Penn State University in the United States, and the waste recycling company Renova.  They have developed a robot capable of interacting with the refuse truck, and its driver.

The robot interacts with the operating system inside the truck and is capable of collecting bins from the street, delivering them to the truck and then depositing the contents inside the vehicle.

The whole process will be supervised by the driver of the truck, with the aim being to remove the need for heavy lifting from refuse collectors.

The project team believe that ROAR ably demonstrates how smart robots can increasingly perform some of the tasks that we don’t wish to perform ourselves.

It also provides an insight into the kind of tasks that may become automated in the near future.

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

The project team will continue developing the prototype further, before it is hopefully deployed on a vehicle designed by Renova in the summer of 2016.



10 thoughts on “New Wall-E style robot aims to make our streets cleaner

  1. So given that there are ongoing efforts to replace huge swaths of the work force with robots, are we even starting to look at how we will have enough jobs for people?

    Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of jobs that I think it'd be preferable to have a machine do, but if you replace garbagemen, then what will all the ex-garbagemen do? We're already going out of our way to stimulate job growth in America, so I don't see how we could start making up for jobs lost to technology.

    • Given the direction technology is headed in I'm not sure there is any way to operate in a Capitalist/Socialist society outside of wealth redistribution. Once AI and robotics are smart enough to take on mobile manual labor jobs, it's just a matter of time before they operate across most industries and replace the bulk of low and mid skill labor. It's unproductive to stop/reverse technological adoption for the sake of keeping jobs, that puts us at a disadvantage amongst global competition. Perhaps Jeremy Rifkin is right, the nature of Capitalism is to increase efficiency to the point of zero marginal cost.

  2. Whats the point of those garbage truck drones/robots if trucks already pick up bins and empty them themselves? ..or in America do you still have garbage men jump of the truck to pick up the bins? And if you do, why not just get the trucks like we have in Australia?

  3. We should already be down to a three-day working week at most, with all the technology we already have. It's only the idiocy of people in general and the right in general that prevents that. Fewer jobs should be good thing for society, not a bad thing. But it won't be, because so many people – left and right – have this idea that work is an inherent good. (It's no coincidence one of our main parties is called 'labour', after all.) The 'work ethic' is one of the most stupid ideas there's ever been.

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