O³dyn - highly dynamic outdoor robot

O³dyn with load
© Fraunhofer IML – Michael Neuhaus
O³dyn with pallet stack
Evaluation of the tests by the developers
© Fraunhofer IML – Michael Neuhaus
Evaluation of the tests by the developers
Odyn Vision
© Fraunhofer IML
Odyn Vision

The Vehicle

Unlike most automated guided vehicles, which either exhibit high performance, dynamics, or flexibility and are designed for either indoor or outdoor use, "O³dyn" can combine all three characteristics. O³dyn is not only highly dynamic and autonomous but also designed for hybrid operation. It can transport large loads in pallet format omnidirectionally at speeds of up to 36 km/h. It can operate dynamically on the respective operating premises, leaving the protected and defined environment of warehouses. Hence the name.

Technological Features

To enable O³dyn to drive smoothly both indoors and outdoors, the researchers have combined the omnidirectional chassis with Mecanum wheels and an air suspension. This allows for driving in tight spaces and precise positioning of the load. Thanks to the special wheel selection and air suspension, safe and load-independent operation on uneven surfaces is guaranteed. The chassis can adapt to potential ground irregularities in outdoor areas. At the same time, the suspension and damping function protects the load.

The load is also picked up using the air suspension. O³dyn lowers itself to pick up the pallet. The load is secured by latches that enter from the outside between the pallet blocks and hold them firmly. This prevents the pallet from slipping during transport. The braking system of the agile transport robot consists of an electric service brake and an emergency brake that works with wear-resistant brake pads under the frame. In an emergency stop, the air valves of the chassis are opened and the vehicle quickly lowered onto the brake plads, ensuring a safe stop.

Another challenge that the researchers had to overcome was seamless navigation between indoor and outdoor areas. They solved this using environment and radio-based localization algorithms. Localization relies on lidar scanners, 3D camera systems, and differential GPS/GNSS. The biggest challenge that the researchers currently face is safety in autonomous operation.

New Development Process

A novelty is also the development process: simulation-based artificial intelligence. Thanks to modern graphics cards, highly complex processes can be simulated in real-time. Using motion capturing, the scientists compare the behavior in the simulation with that of real vehicles and optimize the simulation model. The more the difference between the model and reality is reduced, the more the robot becomes a cyber-physical twin of the simulation. This approach can massively reduce development times: prototypes can be tested in the digital reality before they are built. In addition, hardware and software developments can be decoupled in this way. A digital continuum of development ("Robotic Continuum") is created.

The Silicon Economy

O³dyn was developed as part of the large-scale research project Silicon Economy. The concept and construction are provided as open source by the Open Logistics Foundation. With the Silicon Economy large-scale research project, Fraunhofer IML aims to promote a decentralized, federated, and open platform economy in Germany and Europe.

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As part of the large-scale research project Silicon Economy funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport Affairs (BMDV).