September 7, 2021
Piaggio Fast Forward (PFF), which develops robotics and smart following technology, has announced that the company was awarded patent number 11,112,807 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent, “Method for Determining Self-Driving Vehicle Behavior Models,” is focused on the proprietary design of robot behavior specifications, and adds to the company’s intellectual property portfolio.
The company said it combines in-depth knowledge of the outdoor and indoor built environment with a unique library of behaviors designed through millimeter accurate observation of how people move with one another through the world, from sidewalk etiquette to entering and exiting buildings with one another and beyond. The company uses this to develop self-driving machine software and hardware for use in dynamic and unmapped built environments. PFF said it holds 44 patents ranging from wheel designs to robot designs to behavior models.
The latest patent was developed and co-authored by members of the PFF technology and design teams. PFF aims to create autonomous behaviors that complement the non-autonomous robot/device/vehicle. To accomplish this, PFF said it observes people, analyzes data and designs behaviors for following robots interacting with leaders and bystanders in pedestrian environments, ultimately making a seamless experience between humans and robots.
Why this matters
Without a map, mobile robots cannot really navigate autonomously, so follow technology such as this would be a way to allow them to navigate in these types of environments.
The technology is able to pair with a person by reliably detecting people, following them indoors and outdoors by using a fused sensor array with RGP and stereo-depth mapping cameras and 4D radar. In 2019, the company debuted Gita, a two-wheeled cargo-carrying following robot designed with pedestrian etiquette in mind. The Gita robot uses machine vision to follow its leader, and is designed to match human behaviors like walking speed, maneuverability, and travel distances with all interactions such as pairing, following, unpairing and parking being done with the touch of a button. PFF said because most of the built environment is constantly changing and is unmapped, it focuses on these spaces and has robots following human leaders across the U.S. without the need for a telepresence joystick operation.
“The knowledge of understanding how people move is the foundation of our mission,” said Mitchell Weiss, chief technology officer at PFF. “Piaggio Fast Forward’s approach is to understand pedestrian etiquette and design machines that share this understanding. We continuously work to better innovate in order to provide the leadership for the complex interactions between humans and machines moving together in pedestrian environments.”
The company also recently announced a new sensor technology package designed for consumer and business robots, as well as motorcycles and scooters. The company also demonstrated how its technology can have robots following other robots. For more details on the company, visit the Piaggio Fast Forward website here.