Who can take your trash out? Why, the Volvo robot garbage man can

21 Sep 2015

Volvo sees a future where a robot garbage man replaces humans to collect garbage from homes more efficiently and quietly.

The Robot-based Autonomous Refuse (ROAR) project is a joint academic and commercial project between the US and Volvo’s native Sweden that will create a robot garbage man that would be controlled by a garbage truck collector.

With the emphasis on creating smart cities technology, Volvo said the robots will silently roll out from the truck and collect the garbage and empty it into the truck.

“Imagine a robot that quietly and discreetly enters your neighbourhood, collects your refuse bin and empties it into the refuse truck,” Volvo said in its statement on the project. “It is done without waking the sleeping families and without heavy lifting for the refuse truck’s driver.”

An illustration of the ROAR project. Image via Adrian Wirén, Mälardalens Högskola/Volvo

An illustration of the ROAR project. Image via Adrian Wirén, Mälardalens Högskola/Volvo

While those humans currently employed in a similar capacity across the world are unlikely to be happy with the introduction of robots to replace them, Volvo said the technology that is being developed by the project will potentially have other applications.

“It is exciting that we are combining advanced research with our training in robotics,” said Mikael Ekström, Volvo’s project leader. “Many students will work on this project, and it is a huge opportunity for them to learn both the technology and how to work in teams and in a real industrial context.”

The technology behind the ROAR project is still in development, with plans to continue this research until June 2016 when a garbage truck operated by the commercial partner, Renovo, will be used as a test subject.

Garbage truck image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic