CSIRO’s prototype hot metal carrier has demonstrated many hours of continuous autonomous operation.
Smart systems for safer vehicle management
CSIRO is developing systems for management of vehicles in industrial situations, which offer improved efficiencies in fleet operation, and safer operating conditions for drivers.
4 August 2011 | Updated 14 October 2011
Industrial sites pose a number of challenges to the safe operation of vehicles such as forklifts and trucks used for moving loads.
Sites such as manufacturing and processing plants often include areas in which vehicles operate in constrained spaces, or areas in which vehicle operators have limited fields of view due to site layout or conditions of low ambient light. Examples include warehouses, product storage sites, factory floors, and processing plants.
Safe, efficient operation of industrial fleet vehicles used to move heavy or hazardous loads is essential. CSIRO’s Autonomous Systems Laboratory has developed smart systems for efficient operation of manned and autonomous vehicles, with improved productivity benefits for industrial fleets. The systems are part of the Autonomous Hot Metal Carrier Project which has developed a robotic Hot Metal Carrier.
Modular software systems
CSIRO’s research program into autonomous (driverless) vehicles in industrial environments has produced a number of systems which can be used to improve fleet management and logistics.
CSIRO has developed systems which can be implemented as individual modules:
- Tracking systems for localisation of vehicles
- Systems for detection of objects outside the vehicle (moving or stationary)
- Navigation and path planning systems
- Payload identification systems
- Systems for monitoring vehicle health
- Driver assist systems for alerting drivers to nearby pedestrian activity.
Video-based systems which provide “virtual reality” conditions for remote operators are also available from CSIRO from an associated research project.
Improved fleet management
The individual modular solutions can be deployed in a number of ways to improve industrial fleet operational efficiency.
Autonomous industrial vehicles
CSIRO researchers have developed the systems using a hot metal carrier (a large vehicle used to transport loads of molten metal around an aluminium smelter).
The robotic hot metal carrier has been trialled under demanding conditions in an industrial test site, demonstrating the same range of operations as a manned (human-driven) vehicle.
The carrier is equipped with on-board systems which continuously transmit information about vehicle status and location.
This enables a remote operator to oversee and monitor vehicle functions and payload pickup and delivery in real time. Monitoring can be extended across a fleet of both robot and manned vehicles.