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The Unimog U5023 is a Mercedes Benz Special Trucks vehicle with a high level terrain mobility and a lot of possible applications. In the EFRE-supported lead project of the Commercial Vehicle Cluster Nutzfahrzeuge GmbH “Autonomer Fahrbetrieb von Nutzfahrzeugen im Off-Road-Bereich am Beispiel des Unimogs” the Unimog represents a demonstration vehicle of the technical development of robust and secure navigation solutions of commercial vehicles in rough and unstructured terrain.
The Unimog is characterized by extreme off-road capability and a lot of envelopes like differential lock, central tire inflation system, high number of gears, frame torsion, centreline torsion and portal axle. The vehicle is very attractive for applied research because it is possible to drive through rough terrain that were not included in the previous research programs.
Compared to on-road applications, this off-road navigation is currently an unsolved research problem with high technical obstacles. Nevertheless, the legal regulations for the autonomous commercial vehicles in unstructured terrain are at a lower level, which is why those concepts are easier to commercialize.
The main theme of the research in combination with the Unimog is the progress of robust perception systems, which are providing the detection and evaluation of tracks and passages and statistically and dynamic obstacles. On top of that there are biological motivated methods for localisation and general quality assessment of the sensor system.
Especially in unstructured environment a robot system is often influenced and disturbed by noisy and faulty sensor measurements. In consideration of dynamically changing of the sensor data quality on navigation, it is possible to react to alternating environmental influence. Therefore a path planning can avoid dangerous areas like holes, obstacles, sliding away or tilting.
As part of the project, the U5023 was technically converted with a new steering and braking system to navigate the robot completely autonomic. The sensor system monitors the whole vehicle environment. That’s why certain trajectory in unstructured terrain can be calculated. Furthermore, a complex simulation of the Unimog was built, which includes all the envelopes and characteristics of the vehicle. On account of this, it is possible to simulate risky manoeuvres in heavy terrain before testing it in real life.