MIT modifies Toyota lift truck for unmanned operation

  • 21-Jul-2010 02:11 EDT
Toyota Material Handling lift truck.jpg

The MIT-developed prototype unmanned robotic Toyota 8-Series lift truck is capable of locating, lifting, moving, and placing palletized supplies within an existing outdoor supply depot. (Image by Jason Dorfman, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab)

The U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency (LIA) in June hosted demonstrations at Fort Lee (Virginia) of an MIT-developed prototype unmanned robotic lift truck from Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc. capable of locating, lifting, moving, and placing palletized supplies within an existing outdoor supply depot. The robotics technology was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), BAE Systems, and Lincoln Laboratory in collaboration with the LIA, the Combined Arms Support Command Sustainment Battle Lab, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the Director of Defense Research and Engineering. The 3000-lb (1360-kg) capacity, internal-combustion Toyota 8-Series lift truck was modified by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to perform embodied speech and gesture understanding; shape estimation (from laser range scanner data); machine vision (from camera data); motion estimation (from GPS, inertial data, and wheel odometry encoders); and autonomous mobility and pallet manipulation. Proprietary CAN bus protocols, provided by Toyota’s 8-Series product engineering team, enabled the MIT team to connect its algorithms directly to the lift truck’s manual and electrical controls. The demo illustrated capabilities realized during the first two years of R&D on the project.

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