There’s no denying that trash men have an essential job, but it’s also a very simple one, so simple, in fact, that you could probably program a robot to do it. That’s exactly what Volvo wants to do with its new ROAR Project, which stands for Robot-based Autonomous Refuse Handling. Volvo and its partners will be developing and evaluating the autonomous technology until next summer, at which point actual field testing will begin.
Taking out the trash is an inherently dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. If Volvo’s ROAR project has its way, that someone won’t be a person at all, but rather an autonomous, two-wheeled robot. “Imagine a robot that quietly and discreetly enters your neighborhood, collects your refuse bin and empties it into the refuse truck,” reads the brand’s press release. “It is done without waking the sleeping families and without heavy lifting for the refuse truck’s driver. This is the purpose of ROAR, a joint project with the aim to develop tomorrow’s smart transport solutions.” If you’ve ever watched a science fiction movie, you might be feeling slightly on edge. Not to worry, though, because Volvo’s venture — which stands for Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling — seems much closer to Wall-E than Blade Runner. The joint project involves Volvo, the Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University in Sweden, Penn State University, and waste recycling company Renova, all with the goal of producing safe, quiet machines that streamline the trash collection process and reduce lifting strains on humans.