March 31, 2011

Autonomous Constuction Sites?

Every Tuesday and Thursday I go down to E&S for robotics, and I started to notice this barren construction site along the-side the highway.

This deeply saddens me :( But instead of sulking, I came up with an idea. What about autonomous construction sites? Instead of waiting on the construction workers to arrive at the construction site, the autonomous CAT vehicles can be working around the clock (or in 8 hour shifts if the site is near homes because that'd be way too noisy!)

Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center has done a lot of work on autonomous vehicles, so I believe it can be done (if it hasn't been already).
Since I enjoy working on multi-robot communication and swarm robotics, I think it would be great if the robots worked together to be more efficient! In Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania's robotics lab, GRASP, has done something pretty cool with a swarm of quadrotors.

Personally, I would love to scale that project up and work on this project in my career field. But it won't be easy, it's a pretty ambitious project :)


luckyeights said...

It's a cool idea and definitely a useful/profitable one. One thing that comes to mind is that construction machines are big and extremely dangerous if they do a poor job of avoiding people. It might work to fence off the whole area, maybe keep a supervisor.

Smalls said...

Haha, that's quite true. Just to ensure the safety of civilians, I guess having at least a supervisor around would be a good idea :)

Smalls said...

Also, instead of a low-tech fence, how about a break-beam?

Say if a vehicle comes to close the break-beam will send a message to the vehicle to "stop or go back", and if the robot doesn't listen, 3 seconds later the break-beam sends an emergency shut down message and kills the robots power.
This break-beam would of course be placed where it would alert the robot far before it comes to close to a street or something, and there could be a layer of break-beams, just to be safer.