This autumn, the AutoMod project will be developing concepts for the maintenance of parks and other outdoor spaces. The solutions make use of automation and robotics.
The Concepts & Ideas innovation competition organised as part of the AutoMod project sought innovative concept-level solutions for promoting circularity through robotics and other technologies. The competition ended up receiving a total of 11 entries, two of which were ultimately approved. Both companies were awarded EUR 4,000 to further refine their ideas.
One of the two companies refining their concepts in the AutoMod project is CONTAI. Their aim is to create a modular solution for the transport and operation of maintenance equipment in cities, their surrounding areas and sparsely populated areas.
If successful, the solution will help promote the use of shared operator and equipment resources and the parallel utilisation of manual and autonomous vehicles. The solution’s standardised APIs offer a wide range of potential applications.
CONTAI envisions that in the future, maintenance equipment could be transported using light vehicles or mobile robots, for example. Their loading, driving and unloading could be carried out autonomously or under remote supervision.
The concept is being designed for the maintenance of urban areas and green spaces, such as the collection of recyclable materials. CONTAI is a local logistics start-up, the core expertise of which lies in multi-use, autonomously loaded applications.
Developed in Finland, the CONTAI concept has won numerous international circularity and local logistics start-up competitions.
The second of the two companies selected to participate in the AutoMod project, 4 The Drivers Oy, is preparing a detailed plan for a mobile unit for transporting and distributing mobile robots and a control centre that is compact enough to fit inside the back of a van. The solution utilises the company’s proprietary all-terrain robot platform intended for professional use. The application is waste management in outdoor areas, such as parks.
In the future, robots could be used to collect and transport separately sorted waste bags, for example. This way, human employees would no longer need to cover large areas while lugging equipment, and, furthermore, parks would no longer need to be frequented by heavy waste management vehicles. This would conserve energy, reduce costs and improve the working comfort of employees and the traffic safety of parks.
A compact mobile robot would also be able easily circumvent obstacles that hinder the mobility of the pick-up trucks traditionally used for these operations, such as parked electric scooters.
The scoring of the innovation competition’s entries was carried out by a panel of experts, which included representatives of Forum Virium Helsinki, the City of Espoo, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, NewCo Helsinki, the Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority and Nokia Oyj.
All competition participants were provided with a written assessment of their entry in addition to a numerical score. Forum Virium Helsinki exercised its right to leave part of the competition prize unrewarded.
Forum Virium Helsinki and the AutoMod project invite all the competition participants and new companies interested in robotics to develop solutions to circularity challenges in future as well.
In autumn 2022, we will be launching a second innovation competition with an even larger prize pool, which is aimed in particular at companies that have sufficient resources and expertise of their own to develop a robot prototype during the AutoMod project.
The AutoMod project
The objective of the AutoMod – Autonomous and Modular Utility Vehicle Concepts in CE project (August 2021–August 2023) is to create a new kind of business ecosystem, where service robots transported on moving platforms solve circular economy challenges in smart cities.
The project is being carried out by Forum Virium Helsinki, the City of Espoo and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Union’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts.
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