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Safety improved on forklift trucks with video system

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As part of the Forklift Eye research project, researchers at the Institute of Materials Handling, Material Flow, and Logistics at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Munich University of Technology are working on integrating video cameras in material handling devices, such as forklift trucks. The aim is to improve the efficiency and safety of material flow processes.

Forklift trucks may be used both out of doors and in dark warehouses, difficult lighting conditions for a vision system. The system incorporates LEDs operated by an IPSC4-r2 lighting control system from Smartek, distributed by Framos, to make it insensitive to ambient light. The aim is to keep the number of cameras required to a minimum. This means that the lens must fulfil certain requirements, as it must be able to perform the largest possible number of image processing tasks from the camera’s installation location, for objects of vastly different sizes and distances.

Furthermore, the system as a whole is exposed to engine vibrations and shocks as the forklift truck is driven. Since the demo system must resemble as closely as possible a solution that is suitable for use in industry, the hardware components have been meticulously selected on the grounds of their technical function and quality, robustness, reliability and cost efficiency.

Based on the Smartek software development kit, the engineers of the Munich University of Technology implement a software framework by linking established image processing libraries and special recognition algorithms.

The compliance of Smartek cameras with the GigE Vision standard and the Ethernet interface of the lighting controllers guarantee fast and smooth integration of these critical components in the software framework. In future, this will enable additional sensor functions to be incorporated in the same approach with little expense, by means of a pipe-and-filter architecture.

Framos has supported the Forklift Eye project since mid-2011.

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