DustBot robots perform urban hygiene tasks
A group of European companies and universities have collaborated to produce a series of multifunctional robots for urban hygiene tasks. With abilities ranging from door-to-door garbage pickup and transportation, to automated street cleaning, the DustBot robots recently demonstrated their skills at a station in the town of Atxuri, Portugal. During the presentation the team demonstrated two models, the DustCart and the DustClean, for use in unmanned garbage pickup and transportation, and automated street cleaning respectively.
The DustCart is a humanoid robot 1.45 meters high and weighing 70kg. It has two wheels controlled with help of a gyroscope which provides balance for the upright movement, and uses GPS navigation to pick its routes. Traveling at 3.6km/h, the DustCart can move in range of 16km and can transport up to 80 liters (regarding the volume) or 30kg of material, and is especially useful for persons with mobility problems.
Registered users simply need to call an assistance number that will tell them what time the robot will be at their door to pick up the garbage. Once the machine has reached its destination, users can then interact through a touch screen to select the appropriate type of garbage and give it to the robot, which will transport it and deposit it at the nearest discharge point.
Its touch screen can also provide additional information ranging from local events to real time control of the air quality thanks to embedded nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide sensors. The robot can warn if the levels are too high. The key idea is to use the robots with their own primarily purpose and use them for pollution monitoring or even detection of poisonous gases. This is especially important in the case of gases that humans cannot sense or when long-term exposure to slightly increased concentrations needs to be verified.
Because of its human-like speed, versatile touch screen and friendly appearance, it wouldn’t be hard to make variations of the DustCart robot in order to add a range of other tasks it could do in the future. For example, it could serve as a robotic “shopping assistant” for the elderly, helping them carry their heavy bags back home.
DustClean is a smaller robot, 96cm high and weighing 250kg. It is designed to autonomously clean streets from dirt, dust and garbage. It can carry up to 20kg of garbage and has autonomy of 4 hours of operation at an average speed of 1 km/h.
Both robots incorporate a map of the surrounding environment which they can navigate safely, avoiding moving obstacles, thanks to a number of laser scanners and ultrasound sensors that detect them early and prompt the robot to figure out an alternative trajectory in real time.