Autonomy of vehicles is a hot technological topic. Beyond specific driving applications in logistics and automotive, there is an increasing interest in autonomous capabilities for mobile systems that aren’t bound predefined tracks. A wide variety of utility, agriculture and gardening machines and vehicles must be able to follow a non-predefined path, based on a human or vehicle (follow-me). Depending on the application, less or more sensors, context awareness, intelligence and complex requirements such as operational safety or collision avoidance are required.
This project addresses the need to provide insights in the architectural cost-effective concepts of such mobile systems, with low cost sensors and certifiable for application-specific autonomous follow-me capabilities: for example
- Utility vehicles that follow as close as possible a human order picker/gardener/postman/road maintenance worker
- A mobile system used for the initial training of autonomous lawnmowers, by following a human walking along the borders
- A harvester following a lead vehicle to the next field
Key challenges of the projects are sensing (for localization and collision avoidance), user identification even when there is no line of sight and when operations both indoors and outdoors. Furthermore, depending on the complexity of the operational context, additional external connectivity capabilities may be required for path planning, environmental awareness and conformance to regulations that apply in the specific environment where the vehicle operates. However, the focus of this project is on the on-board capabilities so that navigating decisions can be made autonomously.
In this project, we will first work on the core functionality of a stand-alone follow-me. Secondly, we will provision the system architecture so that it is ready and can be certified for additional capabilities meeting different functional safety level requirements.
This is an ICON-project (Interdisciplinair Coöperatief Onderzoek – Interdisciplinary Cooperative Research). We are looking for companies to join the consortium and work with us on the further valorisation of the project.