17 June 2022
Concept for Safe Interaction of Driverless Industrial Trucks and Humans in Shared Areas
Humans still need to access the same area as automated systems, like in warehouses, if full automation is not feasible or economical. In such shared areas, critical interactions are inevitable. The automation of vehicles is usually tied to an argument on improved safety. However, current standards still rely also on the awareness of humans to avoid collisions. Along with this, modern intelligent warehouses are equipped with additional sensors that can help to automate safety. Blind corners, where the view is obscured, are particularly critical and, moreover, their location can change when goods are moved. Therefor, we generalize a concept for safe interactions at known blind corners to movements in the entire warehouse. We propose an architecture that uses infrastructure sensors to prevent human-robot collisions with respect to automated forklifts as instances of driverless industrial trucks. This includes a safety critical function using wireless communication, which sporadically might be unavailable or disturbed. Therefore, the proposed architecture is able to mitigate these faults and gracefully degrades the system’s performance if required. Within our extensive evaluation, we simulate varying warehouse settings to verify our approach and to estimate the impact on an automated forklift’s performance.