The Stanley Robotics team has called on Trimble to equip Stan, their autonomous parking and valet robot with accurate localization. To achieve centimeter-level localization for a safe and efficient solution, Stanley Robotics needed to combine perception algorithms and intelligent management software with reliable GNSS technology.
Anthony Troublé, Robot Team Manager at Stanley Robotics, explains, “The robot must move fast to handle high traffic flow and precisely to park cars as densely as possible. When looking for an accurate, available and reliable localization solution, Trimble is the company name that comes first.”
For Stan, the team selected the Trimble BX992 dual-antenna enclosure and two Trimble AV59 GNSS Antennas. The BX992 is installed inside the robot and the two antennas are mounted on the robot’s head with maximum separation between them. In order for the robot to attain centimeter-level localization, a Trimble BX992 base and a Trimble Zephyr Antenna are installed at the drop-off cabins where customers leave their cars until robots move them to a more permanent location. The Trimble BX992 base broadcasts RTK corrections over a WiFi link to the robots.
In addition, the robot uses two LiDAR scanners and four cameras. Stan relies on LiDAR-based simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) techniques to locate the robot and build a map. The LiDAR-based SLAM system is always running and fused with the GNSS localization and odometry. “The LiDAR is the most critical in the cabins where the GNSS availability and reliability is not sufficient,” adds Troublé. He continues, “The full integration with our localization system, especially the transition from indoor-to-outdoor when the robot enters a cabin was a challenge. We have tuned and improved our localization fusion algorithm to get the best out of each component and deliver a consistent confidence index.”
Stan is equipped with three levels of safety to ensure operational effectiveness. First, Stanley Robotics continuously monitors the accuracy, availability, and consistency of the RTK GNSS, SLAM and Odometry localization signals. “If these signals are too inconsistent or if the overall confidence is too low, the robots are stopped and a site supervisor is alerted,” said Troublé. “Further, the site is monitored through LiDARs and cameras on the robot to prevent any collision with obstacles.” Finally, a trained Stan maintenance worker is assigned to every parking lot. These individuals wear a safety badge and every robot is equipped with a safe stop feature that will trigger if the operator gets within a defined proximity to the robot.
The first outdoor car park managed by robots opened to the public in 2018 at Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport. Since testing started in 2017, four Stan robots are now fully operational in the Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport car park, which can accommodate up to 500 vehicles. Stanley Robotics announced in January 2019 that they will open 2,000 spaces at Lyon in the summer of 2020. The airport is looking to eventually expand this system to up to 6,000 spaces in total. In 2019, Stanley Robotics signed a contract with Gatwick Airport, the first UK airport to use robots that valet park passengers’ cars. The Stanley Robotics team is gearing up to begin work at another airport, more information to come soon!
About Stanley Robotics
Stanley Robotics is a venture-backed company that was created in January 2015 and is headquartered in Paris, France. It is developing an automated valet parking service with robots that can move any vehicle and increase capacity in existing car parks by up to 50% while revolutionizing the user experience.
The three founders, Clément Boussard (CEO), Aurélien Cord (CTO) and Stéphane Evanno (COO), all have previous experience in driverless technology (at top research institutes and with a world-class industrial corporation).
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