Lincoln

Game-changing robot forklift being developed in the heart of Lincoln

Robotics specialists at the University of Lincoln are developing a self-optimising autonomous forklift that could change the efficiencies of warehouses across a range of sectors.

Scientists are working to build a fleet of forklift trucks that can operate safely in warehouses alongside human co-workers and automatically adapt to changing work demands.

The technology can carry out tasks such as packing, palletising and transporting goods and each robot is being developed to be ‘human aware’.

They use advances computer vision and artificial intelligence to detect, track and predict the behaviour of humans.

Specialists in the UK, Sweden, Italy and Germany are collaborating on the four year project called ILIAD (Intra-Logistics with Integrated Automatic Deployment).

It is funded with a 7 million Euro grant from the EY Horizon’s 2020 fund.

While the aim is to develop a reliable;e robotic solution across a range of industries, researchers will first use the fresh food sector as their development setting.

The Lincoln team will focus on long-term operation of the ILIAD system, including maintenance of environment maps over time, and learning and predicting activity patterns of human co-workers.

The work will include experimental testing at University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing in Holbeach, Lincolnshire.

Professor Tom Duckett is Director of the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems (L-CAS) at University of Lincoln and a Principal Investigator on the ILIAD project. He said: “The project will push the state-of-the-art in human-robot interaction, overcoming persistent barriers to greater adoption of automation in logistics operations in many industries, starting with the food sector.

“The fleets will be self-deploying and self-optimising, removing much of the capital cost and disruption of introducing robotic technologies.

“Most importantly, though, we will show that autonomous vehicles can operate safely and efficiently alongside human co-workers and human driven vehicles in complex, dynamic warehouse settings.”