Intelligent Robo-Pallet

Period of Performance: 01/23/2012 - 01/23/2014

$937K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Stratom, Inc.
5375 Western Avenue Suite A
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator

Abstract

ABSTRACT: The Intelligent Robo-Pallet SBIR program objective is to introduce a high-level of autonomy into the Air Force 463L air cargo handling operations to reduce the manpower and use of material handling equipment necessary to maneuver cargo as compared to the standard 463L pallet. In the Phase II effort Stratom will produce a prototype platform and will develop the system s core mobility and autonomous navigation capabilities, as well as the mechanical platform that will accurately represent the final system s size, shape, and load carrying capabilities while maintaining compatibility with current 463L systems. The integrated prototype will represent a TRL6 solution and will be used to evaluate and demonstrate the system s mobility, core navigation, and cargo handling capabilities for government and commercial customers. The potential applications of an automated heavy cargo hauling vehicle include weapon transportation on ships and bases, movement of material in automated manufacturing lines and warehouses, and the automated movement of commercial freight containers in shipyards and airports. Specific benefits of the Robo-Pallet system in these application areas include its unique propulsion system, which provides maneuverability not currently available, the pallet s ability to self-weigh and track cargo, and its ability to operate in unstructured dynamic environments. BENEFIT: By introducing a high-level of autonomy into the Air Force air cargo handling operations, the Intelligent Robo-Pallet will provide the Air Force, and other branches, an advanced ability to move cargo in congested, dynamic, environments without the use of additional material handling support equipment, such as k-loaders and forklifts, and human resources. This is a critical capability in the delivery of cargo to forward airbases, or newly deployed bases, that do not have the support equipment and manpower necessary to maneuver and manipulate the standard 463L pallet. Thus, a significant benefit of the Robo-Pallet is to greatly reduce the manpower and support equipment required to handle palletized cargo at resource constrained locations. Additional benefits are an improved ability to track and monitor packages on an individual pallet through RFID technology and the ability of the pallet to self-weigh cargo. The ability of the Robo-Pallet to self-weigh its cargo, and measure the cargo s center of gravity, will enable a team of pallets to determine a more optimal load configuration for a specific aircraft in terms of placing the total cargo center of gravity as close as possible to the aircraft s optimal location. Optimizing the aircraft load balance can lead to a reduction of total fuel used on a flight, and when this reduction of fuel usage is taken over a fleet of aircraft using the Robo-Pallet system, a significant cost savings can be potentially realized. While the Robo-Pallet has a very specific mechanical design to meet 463L cargo handling specifications, the potential commercial applications of an automated heavy cargo hauling vehicle are numerous and include weapon transportation on ships and bases, movement of materials in automated manufacturing lines and warehouses, and the automated movement of commercial freight containers in shipyards and airports. The benefit of the Robo-Pallet system over currently used commercial systems in these application areas are the Robo-Pallet s unique propulsion system, that provides agility and maneuverability not currently available, the pallet s variable height capability, the pallet s ability to self-weigh and track packages or material it is transporting for tamper detection and validation of expected load weight, and its ability to operate in unstructured, dynamic, environments.