Already available today as a tool for research, DustCart is a urban robot developed by ROBOTECH: the first robot ever providing a service for two months to real citizens. Currently also part of the European Robot-Era project, DustCart is still being perfected. ROBOTECH aim is to promote this product outside the world of research as soon as the market is ready and appropriate legislation is in place.
SUMMER 2010, 35 USERS INVOLVED, 402 HOUSE CALLS, 120 KILOMETRES COVERED AND 585 KG OF GARBAGE COLLECTED: THIS IS THE EXTENT TO WHICH DUSTCART WAS TESTED.
Between June and August 2010 ROBOTECH carried out field tests on their robots with actual end users, in conjunction with the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, and Synapsis (now part of the Dedalus group), the town of Peccioli and its municipal company Belvedere.
Testing of the household refuse collection service was carried out in the old town centre of Peccioli between 15 June and 7 August 2010. A control station, robot-recovery and a discharge area were set up in the centre of town. In the control station a workspace for 2 operators was installed with a server and software for managing the system.
In the testing area a video surveillance system was installed, consisting of six cameras and a WiFi network with five access points; 6 physical collection points were also established.
34 users took part in the trial, including 18 families and 16 businesses, with a total of 40 people altogether, selected from volunteers residing in the test area. 2 robots were used which collected three types of waste: paper, plastic and unsorted. The users were registered on the system and booked their door-to-door collections by phone.
When a telephone booking was received, the robot was automatically activated by the system, and autonomously proceeded to the collection point associated with the user.
At the same time, the system informed the user of the arrival time of the robot. When the robot arrived, the user opened the drawer with a simple touch-screen interface and inserted the bag of refuse. The robot then returned to the starting point where it automatically dropped the bag at the appropriate discharge area (depending on the type of waste) and then was ready for a new mission. Throughout the trial period the service was available 12 hours per day from Monday to Saturday; the total number of collections was 402; approximately 540kg of refuse was collected, and the two robots in operation covered a total of approximately 120km.
This trial enabled ROBOTECH to become recognised and appreciated by the inhabitants of the town, by offering large and small stakeholders the opportunity to familiarise themselves with real robots and possible future scenarios.
One of the objectives that the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and the Municipality of Peccioli set themselves was to make Peccioli a city of robots; a permanent urban laboratory where innovative robotic technologies can be installed and tested. ROBOTECH is working alongside them to implement this project. The city, university and company are currently involved in the European project called Robot-Era, pertaining to the testing of robotic technologies with senior citizens.