Cybernet has been significantly contributing to development of unmanned and autonomous vehicle technology since the formation of the company in the late 1980's. While implementing our core belief that autonomous systems should augment human performance even in relatively unstructured environments, we have pioneered innovative techniques in robotic platforms, intelligent control, artificial intelligence, machine vision, sensor processing, and display systems. Starting with our entry into the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007, Cybernet has been developing an autonomous vehicle appliqué kit that is capable of automating a wide range of vehicles, including passenger vehicles, warehouse forklifts, tactical/rough terrain forklifts, large container handlers, and small pallet transport vehicles.
This kit, the Autonomous Material Handling Technology (AMHT) appliqué kit, was designed by Cybernet from the ground up to be a flexible implementation that perceives the world around it and reacts to the environment in ways similar to a human operator. This requires very little or no engineering of the environment to support autonomous operations, enabling rapid integration of the technology with customer’s operations. The concept is to enable autonomous vehicles that can be integrated incrementally with manned operators to greatly reduce the cost of entry for customers looking to incorporate autonomous material handling solutions into their operations. Our flexible approach allows automation to be seamlessly added to warehouses, or other operational spaces, as forklifts are being replaced due to normal attrition.
The AMHT kit supports full autonomous operation, semi-autonomous operation, advanced driver assist implementation (which can incorporate autonomous functions), teleoperation, and direct remote control.
Cybernet has applied the AMHT kit to passenger vehicles, commercial warehouse style forklifts, military rough terrain forklifts, small man-capable platforms (like ATVs), small unmanned skid-steer platforms, and very large rough terrain container handlers. The kit provides a wide range of autonomous vehicle capabilities such as navigation, obstacle/collision avoidance, speed control, road rule adherence, and path following. Additionally, our kit uniquely includes a diverse set of endpoint behaviors. For material handling activities, this includes actions such as aligning to containers and shelves, engaging pallets, stacking pallets, maneuvering in narrow areas, etc. For driving, this includes actions like lane keeping, entering drive ways and parking lots, aligning to parking spaces, navigating congested areas, etc.
Military / Commercial Uses
While the AMHT kit is applicable to a wide range of industries (passenger vehicles, trucking, construction equipment, etc.), our current focus is applying the kit to material handling vehicles.
The AMHT kit has been applied to Class I (electric motor rider trucks), Class IV (Internal Combustion Engine Trucks – Solid/Cushion Tires), Class V (Internal Combustion Engine Trucks – Pneumatic Tires), Class VI (Electric and Internal Combustion Engine Tractors) and Class VII (Rough Terrain Forklift Trucks) material handling vehicles for both military and commercial applications.
In the military space, the AMHT kit has automated tactical forklifts (such as the 5K Light Capability Rough Terrain Forklift (LCRTF) and the ATLAS-II 10K forklift), the Rough Terrain Container Handler (RTCH), warehouse style forklifts, and long-distance pallet transports. In the commercial space, the AMHT kit has automated warehouse style forklifts and has demonstrated the capability to orchestrate multiple autonomous forklifts operating in the same area.
Benefits of AMHT
The AMHT kit has demonstrated the ability to reduce the manual labor required to perform material handling missions, both as an operator assist capability and as a fully autonomous operation. Additional AMHT kit advantages over manned operations include:
Details on Technology
The AMHT appliqué kit consists of a collection of sensors (including LIDAR, 3D cameras, high definition visual cameras, acoustic sensors and others), actuators (if necessary), automotive grade processing platforms, wireless communication infrastructure, and intelligent automation software for controlling the hardware. For each new vehicle type and mission, the specific implementation of the kit is tailored based on the nature of the vehicle and the requirements of the mission. The kit can be installed as an add-on to an existing vehicle or integrated with a vehicle during manufacturing.