Autonomous pods from Aurrigo 'swarm' in world’s first
Autonomous pods from Aurrigo, known as podzero, are now able to "swarm" together in what the company says is a world first, thanks to research by WMG at the University of Warwick in partnership with Aurrigo and Milton Keynes council.
The company says that the vehicles are one step closer to being put to use, as they can now help each other to drive and navigate through pedestrian areas around people. The concept of swarming pods will be included as part of using an app to hail a pod, or a "platoon" of pods if traveling in a group.
The podzero autonomous control system has been tailored for compatibility with the mechanical design of the pods and was developed in-house. It uses a combination of GPS, LiDAR, ultrasonic, camera, and wheel dynamics for localization. Each pod comes with an inside user interface app which acts as a visualizer displaying sensor data and vehicle state information. It has been customized by Aurrigo and is used by operators to create autonomous routes and monitor pod motion. It also allows access to remote support. Stereo color cameras and light detecting and ranging sensors (LiDAR) are located around the podzero and provide a 360-degree field of vision.
Researchers at WMG integrated Swarm intelligence into the pods by implementing swarming skills typically used by birds and insects. The success of "swarming" means that pods can now schedule themselves to form a "platoon," following each other when possible, to minimize the number of individual vehicle movements and the need for a supervisor per pod. In the future, it’s expected that a supervisor can watch several pods and report any unexpected behavior.
The technology also reportedly enables the pods, working within a fleet, to automatically optimize their behavior to meet future passenger demand by distributing themselves within a city to the areas where they will most likely be requested.
“The SWARM algorithm has been tested and is proven to be effective and reliable,” said Roger Woodman, Associate Professor in Human Factors at WMG at the University of Warwick. “The ability to make pods ‘swarm’ together like a group of bees or birds, means they can coordinate with each other, bringing them one step closer to our streets.”
“The collaborative SWARM algorithms have been developed to enable our autonomous vehicles to optimize their own trip schedules, so they deliver the optimum efficiency from a fleet of vehicles,” said Simon Brewerton, Chief Technology Officer at Aurrigo. “The swarming technology is very exciting and has the potential to operate large fleets of remotely supervised autonomous vehicles in a safe and scalable way.”
For more information, visit www.aurrigo.com.