Issue 37 Unmanned Systems Technology April/May 2021 Einride next-gen Pod l Battery technology l Dive Technologies AUV-Kit l UGVs insight l Vanguard EFI/ETC vee twins l Icarus Swarms l Transponders l Sonobot 5 l IDEX 2021 report

56 ‘human-detection’ technology. This combines radar, facial recognition and machine learning to determine when people are within range of the LEDs, so that it can sound warning signals and wait for them to leave the area before emitting the UV light. To date, Sunburst UV Bots have been deployed in the public and private healthcare sector, including hospitals belonging to Singapore’s National Healthcare Group as well as other local laboratories and clinics, and by Frasers Property Retail shopping malls in the city state. Further afield, the Bots are also being used by Health Management International Group in Malaysia, as well as in a few commercial properties elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Talks with potential users and distributors across the US, Europe, Australia and the Middle East are also being held. Construction Elsewhere in Singapore, the robotics community is continuing to develop different ways of using UGVs to make up for pandemic-induced labour shortages. In March 2020, the aforementioned Transforma Robotics signed a partnership with Haulotte Singapore to integrate the latter’s Star 10 vertical mast system with technologies from the former’s Pictobot UGV, for painting and coating jobs. “Many workers currently cannot access work sites in Singapore and elsewhere,” says Prof I-Ming Chen, CEO of Transforma. “So to move things forward you have to resort to automation or a remote control system that allows the machinery to be operated safely in the most hazardous environments.” While Haulotte’s Star 10 has typically been used to lift two workers up to the heights necessary for painting and coating building exteriors (as with a cherry picker), Prof Chen anticipates replacing the workers with his company’s robotic sprayer arm and vision system. That way, only one worker would need to stand by safely on the ground to monitor, control or intervene via a control station. The Star 10 itself is a wheeled system that weighs 2.68 t, carries 240 Ah worth of batteries and runs on brushless AC motors. The project is still in its early stages, but with shortages of construction workers in Singapore and elsewhere, the companies anticipate working through lockdown to produce tangible results by later this year. Logging and logistics As well as the shortage of construction workers, the number of truck drivers across various industries is getting smaller, owing to the pandemic and other factors hampering the rate at which licences for operating large trucks are being given. To make up for an especially severe labour shortage in a particularly challenging operating environment, Provectus Robotics Solutions (a subsidiary of Rheinmetall) announced a partnership with Nawiinginokiima Forest Management Corporation (NFMC) in January this year to develop autonomous trucks for hauling timber in northern Ontario. “They can harvest trees very quickly and process the logs in good time,” says Jason Scheib, director of business development at Provectus. “The real bottleneck is getting the trees from forest to mill, so what we’re working on is a platooning strategy, in which a manned truck will lead and two follower trucks will duplicate its route safely in convoy formation. “We can see that number increasing as the technology is proven out. Initially at least, there will need to be safety drivers in the cab, but the autonomous trucks won’t need fully licenced truck drivers. “Quite a few jobs will be created, as we’ll need someone at each dashboard making sure the autonomy system and its sensors are working consistently.” The sensor suite on the follower trucks will need to operate without loss of performance or functionality caused by adverse road or weather conditions, over routes upwards of 100 km, although the workers attending to these trucks could step in to clean the sensors intermittently. Provectus’ autonomy is based on its Advanced Robotic Intelligence System, which consists of numerous subsystem modules dedicated to specific functional components. These include an autonomous module for target tracking, path following and path planning, as well as modules for perception, positioning, mapping and other functions. April/May 2021 | Unmanned Systems Technology These pick-up trucks are to be re-engineered for semi-autonomous ‘follow-me’ platooning for logging operations in northern Ontario (Courtesy of Provectus)