MIT-Developed Unmanned Robotic Toyota Lift Truck

U.S. Army Logistics Innovation Agency (LIA) recently hosted a series of demonstrations involving a Toyota 8-Series lift truck modified by MIT, specially developed for high-risk work environments, such as those in the military. The robotic prototype is capable of locating, lifting, moving and placing palletized supplies within an existing outdoor supply depot.

“We chose the internal combustion Toyota lift truck because it can be operated outdoors on packed earth or gravel and because, with mini-lever control some of its functionality can be controlled electronically rather than solely mechanically," said MIT project leader Seth Teller. "The Toyota 8FGU15 is a fine machine, and we are quite happy with its performance."

The 3,000-pound capacity, internal combustion Toyota 8-Series lift truck was modified to perform embodied speech and gesture understanding; shape estimation (from laser range scanner data); machine vision (from camera data); motion estimation (from GPS, inertial data and wheel odometry encoders); and autonomous mobility and pallet manipulation.

The project also features Proprietary Controller Area Network (CAN-bus) protocols, provided by Toyota's 8-Series product engineering team, which were used to connect MIT’s algorithms directly to the lift truck's manual and electrical controls.

"We are excited to work with the innovative researchers at MIT on this promising application of lift trucks,"
said Brett Wood, president of TMHU, in a release. "Robotic forklifts have the potential to protect both military and civilian personnel working in high-risk environments, such as hazardous material storage facilities. Toyota's 8-Series proved to be a perfect candidate thanks to its advanced technology, electronic throttle and load handling controls."
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