Autonomous forklift for earthquake-damaged warehouses

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VisLab, a laboratory at the University of Parma in Italy, along with project partners, has developed an autonomous forklift for companies in the Emilia Romagna region in Italy that have warehouses damaged by the earthquake in May.

The forklift uses seven cameras which send images to an external operator; the operator drives the forklift with a remote control until it approaches the pallets. The forklift is controlled remotely from outside the warehouse to removal usable material pallets from the safety of outside the building.

As further development, the group want to make the forklift totally autonomous so that, after gathering a complete map of the damaged warehouse, it could move and perform its tasks without any operator supervision.

The forklift has undergone several tests both in controlled and earthquake damaged environments – the latest ones in the city of Mirandola. The team at VisLab worked with TopCon (a multinational company with its Italian headquarters in the city of Concordia having become unfit for use after the earthquake), Elettric80 (producing warehouse automatic shifting shuttles) and FaberCom (producing remote controls and heavy duty machinery actuators).