Vision trains its eye on fork-lift trucks for materials handlers

Putting eyes into fork lift trucks

As part of the so-called 'Forklift Eye' project, researchers from the Institute of Materials Handling, Material Flow and Logistics (Garching, Germany) are developing a vision-based system to improve the efficiency and performance of fork-lift trucks.

Once completed, the system will be able to determine whether the fork lift is empty or loaded, what load is present, as well as the lifting height of the fork lift. It will also be able to ascertain the specific location of the fork lift, either through recognizing specific 2-D markers or though visually identifying its surroundings.

To illuminate the area of the fork lift to be imaged, the researchers are currently using LEDs operated by an IPSC4-r2 lighting control system from Smartek (Cakovec, Croatia) and capturing images from the fork lift using a Smartex GC2441M 5MPixel 15 FPS GC2441M camera with a GigE Vision interface. To develop the software for the system, they are employing the Smartek Software Development Kit, linking functions from established image processing libraries with special image recognition algorithms.

When the research project is completed at the end of 2013, the software will be published as an open source solution, which system integrators working on other material handling systems will be able to use.

More information on the Framos (Pullach, Germany) sponsored project is available here.

-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

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