From Drive-By-Wire to Autonomous Vehicle: Urban Freight Vehicle Perspectives
2. State of the Vehicle
2.1. Vehicle Components Breakdown
- Vehicle cover
- Installed sensors and additional hardware
2.1.3. Vehicle cover
2.1.5. Installed Sensors and Additional Hardware
- Hydraulic services
- Active braking
- Control hardware
- Seating and wiring
2.2. Current Features of FURBOT
- Adaptive speed control
- Emergency braking (pure electrical): The hydraulic braking available is on front wheels only with a single line circuit. The pump is automotive standard but using only one piston line: no crossed braking circuit. Electrical braking on rear wheels is through the traction motors. The presence of the gearboxes makes maximum braking torque above the minimum requirement for the overall N1 vehicle category, but with control or electrical fail this reduces to a viscous braking torque lower than the requirement and not controllable.
- Joystick for steering, i.e., no steering wheel attached: the by-wire steering system works for a prototype, but it does not have the features of an automotive standard by-wire setup. It has no hardware redundancy and the software and method of operation are not certified for by-wire driving in road condition. Doing this certification is not workable without a major restructuring of the HW and SW. For certification, the joystick needs to be replaced with the steering wheel.
- Hydraulic-based controls of suspension and forklift: They are not involved in vehicle homologation and classification.
- Driver assistance: It is not involved in vehicle homologation and classification.
- Pedal and joystick-based braking: The pedal is the hardware on the braking pump, with the limitations exposed above concerning homologation; the stick is by-wire operating on the electric motors, again with the limitations explained above.
3. Work Progress for Automation
3.1. Current Achievements
- Identification of shortcomings in terms of sensors required and upgrading needed is carried out.
- Identification of issues concerning freight approach and autonomous drive within an urban environment are highlighted. Strategies on how to tackle the respective issues are formalized. Furthermore, the hardware of forklifts is also upgraded .
- Development of a plan for upgrading is carried out where hardware and software requirements for the vehicle are completed.
Mathematical Modeling and Obstacle Avoidance
3.2. Future Goals
- Initialize the upgrading process, including software upgrading of the vehicle
- Incorporate relevant sensors for autonomous driving and autonomous handling of freight, including relevant sensors for identification of freight
- Strategies for freight approach and cargo loading are being visualized and simulations are to be developed for the collection of freight, navigation to the drop-off location and drop-off of freight
4. Technical Classification for Vehicle
- L7E-CU: L7E vehicle is a vehicle with four wheels, whose unladen mass is not over 400 kg (550 kg for vehicles intended for carrying goods), not including the mass of batteries with electric vehicles and whose maximum continuous rated power does not exceed 15 kW. Category L7E-CU is a sub-category that is a heavy Quadri-mobile for utility (utility vehicle only designed for the carriage of goods).
- N1-1: N1 vehicle is designed for the carriage of goods and having a maximum mass not exceeding 3.5 t. N1 vehicles are further classified into three sub-classes, which are discussed in their respective subsections.
4.3. Possible Licensing Issues
- Overweight issue of the vehicle
- Absence of steering wheel
- No impact testing possible as it is a prototype vehicle
5. Foreseeable Issues
- Illegally parked cars: Vehicles that will be parked illegally in the demo area might become an obstacle for FURBOT, which can require additional help during the drive.
- Expected U-turn: The vehicle should have enough room to make a U-turn maneuver efficiently for a return route at a designated area. The demo area should thus be equipped with such a spot. It is preferable if the vehicle is not required to cross busy roads for U-turn rather stays within the dedicated lane.
- Freight placement for designated shops: While placing the freight at the designated stores/clients, vehicle needs to be sure that the area where the freight is being placed is clear from any obstacles or human interference. As the freight needs to be laterally extruded from the vehicle, it must not hit any obstacle. A supervised drop-off of the freight might solve this issue, otherwise appropriate sensors need to be placed which can take an automated decision on freight placement.
- Empty pallet collection: A strategy for the collection of empty pallets by the vehicle also needs to be planned. Empty freight collection has almost the same concerns as the freight placement as the forklift has to be laterally displaced from the vehicle to collect the empty pallets from the collection points.
6. Upgrading of Vehicle (Requirements and Expectations)
- 3D LiDAR at the top (for 360° view of the surrounding)
- Three Leopard Cameras with respective lens and trigger cables  (for traffic light detection and freight handling)
- Two single plane LiDARs (front and rear)
- To RADARs (front and rear)
- Industrial computer (for processing of sensor data)
- LTE/5G modem (for data communication between vehicle and remote user)
- GNSS for localization
- IMU for orientation sensing
- Medium-range RFID readers (for freight recognition)
6.1. Resolution of 3D LiDAR Purchase/Placement/Quantity Issues
6.2.1. Use Cases for Demonstration Site
- Autonomous cargo vehicle operation in real urban pedestrian city-center environment
- Autonomous cargo vehicle operation and parking in real urban pedestrian city-center environment
- Autonomous cargo vehicle operation, smooth braking and immobilization in real urban pedestrian city-center environment
- This is combined with Use Case 2, as part of the routes will be performed in mixed lanes with other vehicles
- Autonomous cargo vehicle remote monitoring and emergency braking for immobilization mechanism via the connection with the remote control center
- The FURBOT vehicle load is packaged in freights boxes with the help of the operator.
- The safety driver on board monitors the vehicle’s route.
- The FURBOT follows its pre-defined route and stops at the fixed location in order to unload part of its cargo.
- The vehicle parks safely autonomously.
- The local business stakeholder picks up the load via the robotized freight boxes.
- The vehicle continues its route, but a pedestrian is crossing the road.
- The vehicle detects the pedestrian, adjusts its speed and stops smoothly.
- The safety person on board also activates the emergency brake.
- After the pedestrian moves and the road is unblocked, the vehicle continues its route towards every delivery location until all the goods are delivered.
- The vehicle parks at the depot area.
6.2.2. Software Requirements
- Open sourced
- Easily accessible
- Have a proven track record in the industry
6.2.3. Hardware Identification and Installation
6.3. Operative Modes of the Vehicle
- Autonomous urban navigation: Within this mode, the vehicle is supposed to navigate within the urban environment with the help of newly installed sensors in all weather and light conditions, i.e., in daylight and nighttime. It is also supposed to identify obstacles within its path and avoid them during its urban navigation.
- Autonomous freight handling: For autonomous freight handling, the vehicle is expected to autonomously load the pallet (freight) at the loading bay and then deliver it to the expected shop in an urban setting through autonomous urban navigation. Afterward, it should deliver the pallet, collect the empty pallet and then return to the loading bay. For the vehicle to perform this task seamlessly, the vehicle is expected to:
The process is further explained in Figure 12.
- Approach the pallet using GNSS, RFID and LiDARs autonomously in the loading bay
- Collect the pallet by parking right next to the pallet and initiating fork mode for collection
- Deliver the freight at designated undocking location, mainly with the GNSS location of the designated shop
- Collect the empty pallet at the designated shop using GNSS, RFID and LiDARs same way as in the loading bay
- Unload the empty pallet at the designated location in the loading bay
6.4.1. Demonstration expectations
- Automation Level 4 required with TRL 6 at least
- Full connectivity required for seamless integration in an urban environment
- Requirement of a passive driver who can remotely or physically takeover the vehicle in the case of requirements and needs
- Automation Level 4 with TRL 7 at least
- Sustainable connectivity for a longer duration of operations
- Expected six daily runs with expected 1920 annual freight delivery runs
- Sustainable automation plan for years to come
- Requirement of a passive driver (off-site) who can remotely take over the vehicle
6.4.2. Performance Expectations
- Hurdle detection and avoidance during autonomous urban navigation
- Fully autonomous driving with embedded fail-safe strategies
- Freight detection and alignment with freight for collection of freight and delivery
- Re-routing for return journey, including taking U-turn
- As the driver-less era is approaching, it is crucial that proper regulations (in this case, EU regulations) should be developed for the driver-less vehicles to operate on road for them to qualify for medical/comprehensive insurance from insurance providers.
- Targeted designing of the vehicle in a pre-existing vehicle category can lead to much ease when bringing the autonomous vehicle on the road. Addressing the legal requirements for autonomous vehicles is much easier if the vehicle is pre-tailored, keeping in mind a specific category of the vehicle.
- Hardware and software identification for the vehicle autonomy is crucial and thus the highlight of our research. However, there is no single solution or a specific path to take in order to make the vehicle completely autonomous. There is no specific guideline available to resolve this issue, thus the need for our work. However, further contributions such as these can help set a standard procedure for vehicle autonomy upgrading.
- Hardware/software upgrading for autonomy can be very expensive, especially due to the need of expensive sensors and expensive off-the-shelf software. Thus, sensor identification and budgeting should be a prime consideration during autonomy upgrading.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|FURBOT||Freight Urban Robotic Vehicle|
|SHOW||SHared automation Operating models for Worldwide adoption|
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|Vehicle Mass Comp. (kg)||Chassis||Forklift||Body cover||Aux. comp.||Battery||Tires||Total Mass (kg)||1300|
|Traction power control||500||20||0||1|
|Braking power control||1||550||6||0|
|Category||Category Name||Common Classification Criteria|
|L7E-CU||Heavy Quadri-mobile for utility purposes||only designed for the carriage of goods with an open or enclosed loading bed, virtually even and horizontal loading bed that meets the following criteria:|
Maximum two non-straddle seats, including the seating position for the driver.
|Weight Limit||Max. Velocity Limit||Max. Engine Power||Dimensions L × W × H|
|≤600 kg capable of maximum 1000 kg load. This mass limit excludes the weight of the batteries||≤90 km h||≤15 kW||≤3700 mm|
|Class||Reference Mass, RM|
|Euro 1–2||Euro 3|
|I||RM ≤ 1250 kg||RM ≤ 1350 kg|
|II||1250 kg < RM ≤ 1700 kg||1350 kg < RM ≤ 1760 kg|
|III||1700 kg < RM||1760 kg < RM|
|I||Velodyne||PUCK||30 (+15 to −15)||360||5–20||<100||$$|
|II||Velodyne||Ultra PUCK||40 (+15 to −25)||360||5–20||<200||$$$|
|III||Hesai||PANDARXT||31 (+15 to −16)||360||5–10–20||<120||$|
|Demonstration Location||Operational Speed||Connectivity||Automation Level||TRL|
|Trikala/Greece||15 km h||5G/4G OR Fiber optic network||4 (within the project, from current 3)||6 → 7|
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Masood, K.; Zoppi, M.; Fremont, V.; Molfino, R.M. From Drive-By-Wire to Autonomous Vehicle: Urban Freight Vehicle Perspectives. Sustainability 2021, 13, 1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031169
Masood K, Zoppi M, Fremont V, Molfino RM. From Drive-By-Wire to Autonomous Vehicle: Urban Freight Vehicle Perspectives. Sustainability. 2021; 13(3):1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031169Chicago/Turabian Style
Masood, Khayyam, Matteo Zoppi, Vincent Fremont, and Rezia M. Molfino. 2021. "From Drive-By-Wire to Autonomous Vehicle: Urban Freight Vehicle Perspectives" Sustainability 13, no. 3: 1169. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031169