Volvo developing garbage bots

Volvo Group wants garbage collectors to stop taking out the trash.

The truck maker (not the car company,) is working with waste management giant Renova and three universities, including Penn State, to develop garbage hauling robots that can be deployed from a vehicle to collect cans and empty them into the hopper while the driver stays fresh and clean inside the cabin.

The idea is, essentially, to turn the truck into something like a Star Wars-style droid control ship that’s equipped with an operating system that helps guide the bots to and from their targets. According the Volvo, the focus isn’t so much about hygiene as it is about reducing the amount of heavy lifting humans have to do.

And while the project is called ROAR, short for Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling, Volvo envisions the collection process to be quieter than today’s, since the robots won’t need drag the cans to the street.

The project has pegged Sweden’s Mälardalens and Chalmers universities to design the robots and the operating system, respectively, while Renova will integrate them into a vehicle. Penn State’s Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute will develop the communications system and control panel that the driver will use.

The head of the Penn State team, Sean Brennan says the 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.”

Specifics have yet to be revealed, but Volvo plans to demonstrate the technology in June 2016.

Hopefully for it, no one named Anakin will ruin the event.