The project proposes novel concept architectures of light-duty, full-electrical vehicles for efficient sustainable urban freight transport.
The project will develop FURBOT, a vehicle prototype, to factually demonstrate the performances expected. The main paradigms of the new vehicle design are: energy efficiency, sustainability, mobility dexterity, modularity, intelligent automated driving and freight handling robotization.
Goal and Motivation
- Full electrical vehicle prototype
- Energy efficient
- Dexterous mobility
- Equipped with robotic load/unload device
- Light weight high strength material
- Endowed with perceptual system and intelligent control
- Standardized freight units
- A discrete time simulator for FURBOT fleet networking analysis and management
The design approach is oriented to harmonically integrate the new features into the vehicle architectures, based on the knowledge of advanced technologies in the field of the electric power supply and drive trains, in wheel motors, lightweight high strength materials,perceptual systems and intelligent controls.
FURBOT will present a new frame-platform structure, new efficient power supply and drive train layout including X-by wire transmission, new robotic tools for freights manipulation, new internal state sensorial/monitoring system and new perceptual/automated control functions.
The vehicle architecture is conceived modularly. The payload is considered packaged in freights boxes or ISO pallets. Attention will be paid to the modularity and standardization of components as well as to safety issues about crashworthiness and EMI/EMC, radiation health impact issues.
A great effort will be devoted to improve the energy efficiency of the system by exploiting different aspects: a new power train layout integrated in the chassis; new battery and energy management system;last generation lightweight, direct drive electric motors; regenerative braking on the four driving wheels; reduced mass; attentive use of power addressed by the driver assistant or operating within the automated driving module.
The FURBOT represents a transport agent that can be used alone but that better exploits its power if used in a fleet offering a new sustainable and very adaptable (evolvable) urban freight transport system. The system will be modelled and a simulator developed.
The FURBOT delivery service is inspired to the Packstation. Packstation is a service run by DHL Parcel Germany. It provides automated booths for self-service collection of parcels and oversize letters as well as self-service dispatch of parcels 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The FURBOT service inherits all the vantages of the Packstation concept and add new ones, as shown in Fig. 4. Basically we have a mobile Packstation that has not a fixed position. It is consolidated at the UDC and it is temporary unloaded in the location where it is currently required.
Therefore in the FURBOT project, the problem we are facing is the daily clustering of the packages at the UDC into a given number of LBL boxes. The LBL boxes are divided in parcels (Fig. 5). Each parcel accommodates packages for a receiver. Differently from the Packstation, the LBL FURBOT box has a modular structure: it is possible to reorganize its internal space changing the parcel dimensions according to the actual needs. To each cluster, and therefore to each LBL box, an address is assigned, which is the “centre” position of the addresses of the packages within the cluster. Among all the possible clusters we select the ones that minimize the distances the receivers have to walk for collecting their packages (and therefore the distances from the addresses of the packages to the cluster centre).
The cluster centre will be the unloading bay of the box. Actually, each urban area has a list of possible places that can be used as unloading bays. These places should be accessible from the FURBOT vehicle and the receivers, and the impact of the FURBOT box, temporary placed there, on pedestrian flows and vehicular flows, should be minimum. We have other constraints to our problem, one is related to the box’s capacity and another is related to the maximum distance the receivers can walk (in order to collect their packages in the box).
An optimization algorithm has been developed for assessing the clusters and the unloading bay of each cluster. The code has been written with Matlab and the fuzzy logic has been adopted for solving the problem. In figure 6 an application of the algorithm to an illustrative problem is shown.
The small dot locations refer to the addresses of 85 packages (demand). In this case of study we assumed a supply of 4 LBL boxes. The location of the unloading bay assigned to each box is marked in the figure with a big dot. The colours refer to the clusters: all the small bots with