Robotic lawn mowers: increased safety for children
Levels of digitalization and automation are increasing not only in industrial environments but also in our everyday lives. More and more people today are using robotic devices to vacuum the floors or mow the lawn. These devices have to precisely monitor their surroundings to avoid causing material damage or injury. A test conducted by German consumer safety group Stiftung Warentest, however, indicates that not all robotic lawn mowers stop in time when children are crawling nearby – in fact, none of the devices stopped when a replica of a child’s hand was placed in front of them.
A LiDAR-based sensor system from Fraunhofer IMS in Duisburg prevents the robots from getting close to children playing nearby in the first place, and if a child does happen to approach it, the device shuts down immediately. The sensors use state-of-the-art image processing technology to generate three-dimensional representations of the surroundings in real time, thus making it possible to distinguish between people and objects.
In addition to developing photodiodes, which convert incident light into electrically usable signals, the researchers are exploring methods to reduce the adverse effects of sunlight. The first systems are set to go into production in late 2019.