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Breakthrough for outdoor autonomous heavy machines: Safety-directed collision avoidance system for workers based on UWB radios with performance level

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SAFETY4WORKERS (Breakthrough for outdoor autonomous heavy machines: Safety-directed collision avoidance system for workers based on UWB radios with performance level)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2015-07-31

Industrial companies are willing to deploy autonomous moving machines (AMM) across different application scenarios to be aligned with the Vision Zero of the International Social Security Association on Prevention in the Mining Society. As the area of machine operation can typically not be separated from on-foot workers, the AMMs has to detect it and react autonomously to avoid collisions. Today’s available safety systems like laser scanners and cameras can only be applied reliably in clean environments, failing in outdoors scenarios due to the harsh operational conditions and highly dynamic changing working environment.
Comnovo markets D2SENSE (distance to sense) proximity system since March 2013, a radio-based ranging system, able to address the challenging outdoor environments and detecting pedestrians also behind obstacles, independently from weather conditions or dust contamination. The system is today designed as a driver assistance system, requiring the driver interaction to reduce speed or stop the vehicle.
In order to generate control signals for deploying autonomous moving machines, a performance level (PL) according to the EN ISO 13849 specification is required. The requirements are high, as severe accidents need to be avoided. Hence, a high PL of level D is needed for the application, which can only be achieved by a combination of two highly reliable human being detection systems.
The first phase of SAFETY4WORKERS explored and assessed the technical feasibility and commercial potential of the breakthrough innovation of incorporate the Performance Level into wireless safety personnel equipment, providing significant progress in safety at work, introducing a novel concept of sensor technologies for the control of autonomous moving machines. During this phase, Comnovo built up strategical relationships with two launch customers. The respective use-cases were carried out successfully. Focused on market-segments that have been in search for an adequate problem-solving solution, the Comnovo warning systems can be characterized as innovative products for human-related collision-prevention. In further development-cycles the integration into OEMs will be pursued. Thus, by funding in phase II of the Horizon 2020 project, the upscaling phase of the D2Sense-product and the international market entry of the new SAFETY4WORKERS technology will become possible, which will create further jobs in the field of F&E, sales and services, as well as production facilities.
Two different use cases were analyzed: “Autonomous Charging Cars in Coke Plants” and “Autonomous Vehicles in Mining. The actual processes of the non-automated vehicles were described and the event in which the on-foot workers are exposed to be injured were identified.
Follow the determination of a performance level of d for both cases, the safety functions “Safely limited Speed” and “Safe torque off” were identified and discussed to be achieved. Additionally, the corresponding designed architecture and category of the safety related part of the control system (SRP/CS) were elaborated.
To determinate the applicability of the discussed technologies to meet the performance level, different tests were done with the actual D2SENSE system and an evaluation kit of UWB radar system. Each system by itself demonstrate the feasibility to detect human beings into a determinate area, were the weakness of one was suppressed by the strength of the other. The combination of both technologies leads to a breakthrough-innovation for developing the new markers of AMMs for outdoors operations.
Assigned in Mobility to Growth area, the enhancement of the D2SENSE ranging system through the introduction of performance level opens a niche segment, which will develop and grow very fast within next few years. Combining two highly reliable human being detection systems, one passive and the other active, will result in a key enabling technology for outdoors autonomous moving machinery by providing exact location information of workers in the danger zone, independently from outside conditions. This represents the unique selling proposition of Comnovo, providing a noticeable and sustainable competitive advantage.
By de the development of a bi-directional warning system, which can also use for non- and semi-autonomous vehicles, Comnovo aims to be the first in market to introduce a safety related component with PL-Certification. After completing the second phase of the project, the expected impact for the market is the opening of a niche segment, which will be develop and grow very fast. Users will reduce the risk classification of the Employer’s Liability Insurance Associations and enhance the economic efficiency by reducing uncertainty and reduced exposed personnel. Together with the technical advantage of extending the D2SENSE system to a safety related component for AMMs, providing exact location information of workers in the danger zone, Comnovo will generating considerable annual growth and develop international markets. The protection of the intellectual property of the core technology will provide protection against competitors, establishing an unfair advantage through the development of this ground-breaking innovation.
After discussion with the European partners and also some machine manufactures, they confirmed the interest of the market to use this kind of technology into their machinery. This information was added to the business plan to demonstrate the economic viability of continue with the development into phase 2.