The National Academies

NCHRP IDEA 20-30/IDEA 090 [Completed (IDEA)]

Robotic Safety Markers
[ NCHRP 20-30 (NCHRP-IDEA) ]

  Project Data
Staff Responsibility: Dr. Inam Jawed

This project was aimed at developing a robotic safety marker system consisting of mobile signs, cones, and other safety devices to provide safety to workers in the work zone (Figure 1). A robotic safety marker system was designed along with a global laser-based sensor system capable of locating barrels up to 80 meters away with an accuracy of a few centimeters. Software was developed to integrate the sensor with the system, and a mathematical matching algorithm was developed to determine the location of the barrel robot relative to the global sensor. Following the design and fabrication of a robot safety sign to complement the safety barrel robots, a functional system was produced by full integration of the global planning, sensing and communication systems. Both the global and local control schemes were tested without involving a human in the loop. The desired and actual paths for each robot showed good agreement and the tests took less than two minutes to complete (Figure 2). The control algorithm was successfully used for the relative movements of the robots and the global sensor. A new tracking system software was created to allow the global sensor to track the location of the barrels in real time, and an initial test successfully tracked a group of five robots in a realistic environment. The new tracking software should help develop a new control algorithm that will allow continuous motion of the barrel robots. Movies on project results showing moving safety robots can be viewed at https://robots.unl.edu/projects/current/barrelrobots/index.html. In addition to Nebraska DOR, Caltrans and Texas DOT have expressed interest in this project. The project has received considerable national and international media attention.  The final report is available from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS # PB2005-109494).
The final report for this IDEA project can be found at:

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