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September 18, 2015 8:30 AM, EDT

Volvo Developing Robot-Supported Garbage Truck

Volvo Group
Volvo Group

Volvo said it is developing a garbage truck that interacts with robots to collect and bring bins to the truck.

The project, called Robot-based Autonomous Refuse Handling, has the goal of developing a system to automatically collect garbage cans under the supervision of the truck driver, removing any heavy lifting for the operator.

“Imagine a robot that quietly and discreetly enters your neighborhood, collects your refuse bin and empties it into the refuse truck. It is done without waking the sleeping families and without heavy lifting for the refuse truck’s driver. This is the purpose of ROAR, a joint project with the aim to develop tomorrow's smart transport solutions,” Volvo said in a statement.

Volvo calls the system a “near future” technology that can be applied to many areas.

“Within Volvo Group we foresee a future with more automation,” Per-Lage Götvall, project leader for the Volvo Group, said in a statement.

“This project provides a way to stretch the imagination and test new concepts to shape transport solutions for tomorrow,” said Götvall.

The company said it expects to work on the project until about June 2016 when it will be tested on a vehicle developed by vehicle technology firm Renova.

The manufacturer is working with several universities to develop the technology, including Penn State, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and Mälardalen University in Sweden.

Penn State’s Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute will develop the graphics, communication systems and control panel for the truck driver.

“We’re very lucky to have an amazing cohort of students who are well-trained in automation technologies,” Sean Brennan, lead of the Penn State team, said in a statement.  “This project promises great opportunities for our students to not only engage with a cutting-edge vehicle project, but also to help define how society will interact daily with robotic systems.”