Volvo Trucks has developed a new self-steering truck that it says could become a significant productivity booster for Brazilian sugar-cane growers.
The truck, which is used to transport newly harvested sugar-cane, is steered with “great precision” through the fields in order to avoid damaging the young plants that will form the following year’s crop.
The wheel robots are for the larger part derived from the Mars rovers, which have actuators integrated into the wheels to help with the movement on the rugged grounds in space. This is made possible with the help of 12 volt linear actuators.
There is some elemental aspects of robotics that are involved in the setup. For there to be synchronous movement on a ground that is not evenly leveled, there is need for each of the units to have its own local control unit.
When first learning to drive, many people find steering a bit tricky. You realise the roads maybe aren’t as straight as you thought they were and you constantly have to turn an inch this way, and an inch that way. Not being used to the relationship between the wheel in your hands and the wheels on the road, you’re not quite sure if the unsteady minute manoeuvers you’re having to make is because you lack the skill, or if the road is wrong, or if the wheels are not all connected up properly. Many cars seem to have some slack between the steering wheel and the road wheels.
With autonomous cars of course you no longer have to worry about your steering skills. In fact, if Google has its way, you may not even see a steering wheel. For not only did the self-styled archiver of all human knowledge stupefy everyone by presenting us with the crazy idea of driverless cars and actually persuade everyone it’s actually quite a good idea when you think about it, the modern equivalent of Big Brother is now telling us it wants to do away with the steering wheel, the acceleration pedal, the clutch and brake. The weird thing is that their mad ideas make sense to us, even though we have a sneaky suspicion that they really shouldn’t. But paranoia aside, why would you need a steering wheel or anything like that in a car that you don’t have to operate, that moves around by itself? On this evidence, Google will continue to drive people out of their minds, and we will accept it, probably.
Now, of course, everyone and their grannies are developing autonomous car technologies in anticipation of some brave new world where all cars have the same rights as humans. And who better to help us innovate our way into inconsequence than the Germans? Their long tradition of automotive engineering excellence would demand that they come up with at least one screwball idea that people may think is actually quite practical. So in keeping with Google’s continual challenges to conventional thinking, the Germans have been pushing the idea of car wheels all turning and moving independently of each other, theoretically in any direction the autonomous, cloud-connected robot chooses for each one. Continue reading Germans developing car wheels that can be steered individually
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