The next major trend in automation of heavy mobile work machines will be mixed fleet operation. It is characterized by connecting autonomous machines from different manufacturers to the common control as well as the collaboration of manual and automatic machines. A mixed fleet is more flexible and adaptable than a fleet made up of only one type of vehicle. It allows to choose the most suitable machine for a given task and to optimize the available resources.
Mixed fleet concepts can offer a significant growth in mobile machine business,and it has been identified in many FIMA member companies. But the realization requires still completely new ideas and solutions to two bottleneck issues:
How to combine the manually operated work, which makes use of creativity and reasoning ability of humans and the efficiency and safety of autonomous machines.
How to configurate a work site and processes which uses a group of machines from different manufacturers and/or different type of products is most efficient way.
Mixed Fleet is one of the key theme in FIMA, starting at 2023. FIMA will invest in this theme with it´s member companies by actions, networking and project preparation.
Started as a ROS workgroup, FIMA opened a new theme to study the potential of the platform economy in the context of autonomous mobile machines, to build new cooperation in the software business in the field and to move software development from separate projects towards the platform economy.
In this theme a new joint project has been started on 2021:
PEAMS: Platform Economy for Autonomous Mobile Machines Software Development
The project addressed to the major challenges in software development, such as
Software of mobile work machines is complicated, large and without standards
Heavy SW development and maintenance costs
Vendor locking – all OEM software is in-house or made with partners with NDA
Sub-systems and interfaces are not compatible with other equipments or customer´s systems
SMEs have no markets to specialize and develop their own software
No tradition on ecosystems or use of open interfaces in large scale
Another activity in the theme is doctoral thesis work ESEAMM (Empirical evaluation of software lifecycle management tools)
It will study new methods and tools that increase productivity of software development for autonomous mobile machines i.e. implementing a real-time shared map from observations of multiple machines, user interface for simulated warehouse or adding a new actuator both physically and in software to a pre-existing robot.
See more information in project sites.
The main topics during 2023-24 in autonomy theme are:
Safe Valid project (see the project site)