The development of automated forklift trucks has been in the pipeline for a number of years now. But now, scientists are working to develop forklift trucks that are “self-optimising” making them safe to be in operation around human co-workers.
The project has brought together specialists from the UK, Sweden, Italy and Germany to develop these automatically adapting forklifts, which will be able to cope with the changing work demands of warehouse environments in a safe and efficient way.
A key requirement is that each robotic forklift truck is “human aware.” This means they will have advanced computer vision and AI which will enable them to detect, track and predict the behaviour of humans. This will allow them to plan their movements, incorporating patterns of activity and warehouse layouts.
The end goal of the project is to develop a new generation of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that can assist with tasks such as packing, picking and transporting goods. The robotic forklift trucks will learn via self-collected data.
Whilst the ultimate aim is to roll out these robotic forklift trucks across all industries and sectors, the fresh food sector will be used as a development and testing setting.
The fresh food sector is the ideal setting due to the challenges in the industry. These include the short shelf life of products, wastage costs, the need for traceability and rapid changes to market needs.
Here at H&F Lift Trucks, we’ve previously highlighted the future of robotic forklift trucks. One of the issues facing the prospect of robotic forklifts has been the safety and efficiency of the processes. However, this latest project seems to be addressing these issues head on. It will definitely be interesting to see the outcome of the project, which is expected to be completed in four years.