Volvo Envisions Replacing Garbagemen With Quiet And Intelligent Robots

We all fear the day when humans end up under the mechanical thumbs of our eventual robot overlords, but for now, it's us who still reign over them. Such is also the result of a joint effort involving the Volvo Group and several partners to develop a robot that picks up trash under the supervision of a garbage truck driver.

The project is called ROAR (Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling) and it's being developed by the Volvo Group, Chalmers University of Technology and Mälardalen University in Sweden, Penn State University in the United States, the waste recycling company Renova.

What Volvo is trying to demonstrate with ROAR is how, in the very near future, smart machines will be able to assist humans in a broad range of activities. The same technology that's being developed for refuse retrieval can be applied to many different areas.

Volvo ROAR

"Within Volvo Group we foresee a future with more automation," says Per-Lage Götvall, project leader for the Volvo Group. "This project provides a way to stretch the imagination and test new concepts to shape transport solutions for tomorrow."

In this instance, Volvo's robots collect garbage bins from homes, lug them over to the garbage truck, and then empty them. The entire process is under the supervision of the truck driver, who can avoid heavy lifting.

It's an interesting experiment especially when you think about the current progress being made with autonomous vehicles. This isn't something Volvo touched on in its press release, but it's not hard to imagine these refuse robots being teamed up with self-driving garbage trucks.

"This project promises great opportunities for our students to not only engage with a cuttingedge vehicle project, but also to help define how society will interact daily with robotic systems," says Sean Brennan, lead of the Penn State team.

Let's just hope robots leave some jobs for their human underlings in future.