Autonomous Robots 4 Logistic Spaces

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About MACP4Log

Final Presentation of the Project




Project Description

The three-years (2008-2010) project “MACP4Log - Mobile, autonomous and cooperating robotic platforms for supervision and monitoring of large logistic surfaces” is aimed at the study and development of a prototype of a mobile robotic platform, with on-board vision systems and sensors, integrating a flexible wireless communication solution, able to move autonomously in large logistic spaces, and to communicate with a supervisor and other similar platforms to achieve a coordinated action to carry out specific tasks.

Logistic spaces are large areas where logistic societies or other transport enterprises receive, store and distribute large quantities of goods, mainly bulky ones, as containers, cars and other similar items. Other logistic spaces may include car-rental parkings, intermodal rail nodes, etc.

The project is coordinated by the Robotics Research Group from Politecnico di Torino; the research activity is carried on in collaboration with ERXA s.r.l. (a SME specialized in software for industrial robotics applications) and the Istituto Superiore “Mario Boella” (ISMB), a research institute active in several ICT fields.

The main tasks to be performed by the robot team address the principal issues of potential logistic users and are given by:

  • building and updating maps of both indoor and outdoor logistic spaces
  • performing programmed and pro-active surveillance
  • locating on the map specific items, as container, cars, etc., that can be marked by proper tags (e.g. license plates, container numbers, RFID) or unmarked, and should be distinguished by color, shape and/or other physical characteristics
  • achieving a full coordination of the team, always securing the wireless connectivity.

The robotic platform adopted is given by the Pioneer P3-DX (the team is currently composed by three rovers, distinguishable by means of a bar code), equipped with:

  • proximity sensors: the embedded sonar ring and a laser scanner SICK LMS200
  • vision sensors: a pan-tilt camera (use of an omnivision camera is under investigation)
  • broadband wireless transmitter and receiver
  • an on –board netbook

The environment where the robotic platform operates can be considered as slowly varying, since the robot tasks will be performed when the logistic spaces are relatively quiet (during the night or weekends).

The mobile platform must be able to:

  • autonomously move within substantially flat and uniform indoor and outdoor spaces, partially structured, with or without a given initial approximated map describing the environment;
  • self-locate within the given/constructed map, by means of on-board sensors and cameras; passive or active markers may be present in the logistic surface;
  • connect to the supervisor and upload heterogeneous data (video stream from cameras, data about positioning, logs, alarms, etc.);
  • connect to other similar mobile platforms operating in the logistic surface to build a cooperative approach to the supervision goal;
  • autonomously contribute to a cooperative task in a supervised team management.