LiDAR system improves forklift safety

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

ATLANTA –Velodyne LiDAR is teaming up with MechaSpin and CVEDIA to help reduce some of the approximately 34,900 forklift accidents with 85 resulting deaths in the U.S. every year.

Equipped with the Velodyne PUCK (VLP-16) 3D LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensor, MechaSpin’s ForkAlert helps forklifts and other industrial vehicles identify and classify surrounding objects in real-time. The sophisticated Advanced Driver Awareness System (ADAS) quickly alerts the driver to hazards through a series of audible and visual alerts, providing them with 360-degree protection around the vehicle.

“Working with MechaSpin and CVEDIA has been very exciting, as we are passionate about helping companies develop more effective automated systems – in this case, for both operators and pedestrians in warehouses,” said Frank Bertini, UAV and robotics business manager at Velodyne LiDAR.

“Both companies are important pieces of Velodyne’s growing ecosystem of third party integrators and software developers and we are excited about the possibilities we can bring in coming years.”

Velodyne’s VLP-16, colloquially termed the “Puck,” delivers 300,000 geospatial data points per second. These points are used by the ForkAlert system to map the environment and build a 3D point cloud in real-time.

People, vehicles, and stationary objects are identified clearly within the mapped point cloud, providing full 360-degree awareness to the forklift operator.

Velodyne’s Puck acts as an ideal robotic eye for ForkAlert, aiding the driver when vision may be limited.

This innovative hardware and software solution was developed by MechaSpin, a full-service robotics house specializing in Mechatronics and industrial automation. To speed up and improve development of ForkAlert, MechaSpin partnered with CVEDIA, a simulation, modeling and big data management platform for machine learning applications, to develop a robust simulation environment.

The technology from CVEDIA allows MechaSpin to quickly prototype, design, develop and test ForkAlert in a large variety of environments, ensuring the ForkAlert can navigate any environment and prevent collisions.

“Accidents and injuries from forklifts are costing companies significant time and money. MechaSpin specializes in applying machine-learning and object classification algorithms to LiDAR data,” said Danny Kent, Ph.D., president and founder of MechaSpin.

“Using Velodyne’s VLP-16 combined with MechaSpin’s software, ForkAlert provides an active safety solution to drivers. This increases warehouse safety, improves driver morale, and reduces lost time and money. MechaSpin is thrilled about working with Velodyne and CVEDIA on this exciting product.”

“Simulations and modeling enable faster development and deployment of autonomous systems to improve worker safety,” noted Arjan Wijnveen, CEO of CVEDIA.

“CVEDIA’s ChiSynCity constructs 3D indoor/outdoor environments and provides ground truth sensor data for machine learning algorithms development and validation. CVEDIA is excited to help build a much-needed product in the industrial automation space with Velodyne and MechaSpin.”