In CATALYST, Viral is focusing on autonomous driving of articulated commercial vehicles in distribution centres. The motive is to develop a distributed control strategy which can handle multiple vehicles operating at the same time in a distribution centre while avoiding obstacles, maintaining docking accuracy and vehicle’s dynamic stability.
For the automation of the planning and control of vehicles, an accurate and efficient vehicle model is required. To evaluate the performance of the vehicle model, full-scale tests at the DPD distribution centre in Oirschot were executed. The measurements included both forward and reverse driving manoeuvres. Measurements from the DPD test are compared with three vehicle models (see Figure 1) and it could be assessed which model predicted the real-world measurements best.
Next to this, a functional truck lab in the automotive lab at TU/e has been set up (see Figure 2). The lab setup is a combined effort by the lab staff and PhD colleagues to conduct research on the automation of articulated vehicles at a distribution centre. It consists of 3 scaled tractor semi-trailer combination with onboard sensors like IMU, Lidar and camera. To operate the vehicles and execute path planning and control strategies we use PCs in the infrastructure control centre. Additionally, Motion capture cameras (Optitrack cameras) for tracking the vehicle are used.
For the vehicle to drive autonomously, it has to first sense the environment, then think based on the perceived information and act accordingly. In the early development phase, a baseline controller that enables the vehicle to drive autonomously in forward motion has been implemented.
Exciting stuff, to be continued!