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Title:
TOWING VEHICLE AND TOWED VEHICLE CONNECTION ASSEMBLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/156623
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A towing vehicle for use with a towed vehicle comprising a main body; a platform connected to the main body; a connection assembly mounted on the platform, the connection assembly comprising one or more guiding members configured to releasably receive one or more corresponding connectors of the towed vehicle; and a lifting means configured for lifting the platform in a direction such that the one or more guiding members are aligned for receiving the one or more corresponding connectors of the towed vehicle.

Inventors:
LEW, Joseph (60 Paya Lebar Road, #12-53 Paya Lebar Square, 1 Singapore, 409051, SG)
YAN, Ruijun (60 Paya Lebar Road, #12-53 Paya Lebar Square, 1 Singapore, 409051, SG)
ANG, Yubin (60 Paya Lebar Road, #12-53 Paya Lebar Square, 1 Singapore, 409051, SG)
QUAH, Kelvin (60 Paya Lebar Road, #12-53 Paya Lebar Square, 1 Singapore, 409051, SG)
Application Number:
SG2018/050223
Publication Date:
August 15, 2019
Filing Date:
May 04, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RED DOT ROBOTICS PTE. LTD. (60 Paya Lebar Road, #12-53 Paya Lebar Square, 1 Singapore, 409051, SG)
International Classes:
B60D1/24; B60D1/36; G05D1/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
AEDIFICARE LAW CORPORATION (20 Collyer Quay #23-01, Singapore 9, 049319, SG)
Download PDF:
Claims:
C LAIMS

1. A towing vehicle for use with a towed vehicle comprising:- a main body;

a platform connected to the main body;

a connection assembly mounted on the platform, the connection assembly comprising one or more guiding members configured to releasably receive one or more corresponding connectors of the towed vehicle; and

a lifting means configured for lifting the platform in a direction such that the one or more guiding members are aligned for receiving the one or more corresponding connectors of the towed vehicle.

2. A towing vehicle according to claim 1 wherein the lifting of the platform releases the towed vehicle from its braking position.

3. A towing vehicle according to claim 1 wherein the lifting means includes hydraulic actuators for moving the platform in an upward or downward direction.

4. A towing vehicle according to claim 1 wherein the lifting means includes electrical actuators for moving the platform in an upward or downward direction.

5. A towing vehicle according to any of the preceding claims wherein the towing vehicle is an autonomous unmanned vehicle.

6. A towing vehicle according to claim 5 wherein the towing vehicle is controlled by a detachable wired controller or a wireless remote controller.

7. A towing vehicle according to any of the preceding claims wherein the towed vehicle is a cargo trailer comprising a tow bar pivotable about a main frame of the towed vehicle, wherein when the tow bar is in a substantially vertical position, the towed vehicle is in a braking position.

8. A towing vehicle according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the platform comprises a pair of substantially horizontal support members.

9. A towing vehicle according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the each of the one or more of guiding members comprise a recess, and the recess is substantially squarish in shape.

10. A towing vehicle according to claim 9, wherein the recess is substantially complementary in shape with the one or more corresponding connectors on the towed vehicle.

11. A towing vehicle according to any of the preceding claims, wherein each of the one or more guiding members comprises an abutting memberthat faces the rear of the main body, wherein the abutting member has a height that is greater than the one or more guiding members.

12. A towed vehicle for use with a towing vehicle according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the towed vehicle comprises one or more connectors configured to be releasably received by one or more corresponding guiding members present in the towing vehicle.

13. A towed vehicle according to claim 12 wherein the towed vehicle is a cargo trailer, container trailer, pallet dolley, baggage trolley, ground power unit or air start unit.

14. A towed vehicle according to claim 13 wherein the cargo trailer, container trailer, pallet dolley, baggage trolley, ground power unit or air start unit carries a portable Unit Load Device.

15. A towed vehicle according to any of claims 12 to 14 wherein the towed vehicle comprises a tow bar pivotable about a main frame of the towed vehicle.

Description:
TOWING VE HIC L E AND TOWE D VE HIC L E C ONNE CTION AS S E MB LY

FIE L D OF T H E INVE NTION

This invention relates to towing vehicles and towed vehicles such as towed vehicles used at airports and other places for the transportation of cargo.

BAC KG ROU ND ART

The following discussion of the background of the invention is intended to facilitate an understanding of the present invention. However, it should be appreciated that the discussion is not an acknowledgement or admission that any of the material referred to was published, known or part of the common general knowledge of the person skilled in the art in any jurisdiction as at the date of the application.

In recentyears, with the expansion of global airtravel and the increased loading and carrying capacity of aircraft, cargo handling has expanded in volume and size, leading to logistical challenges in cargo and baggage processing turnaround time. The processing of cargo such as baggage is currently reliant on human manpower in the operation of towing vehicles and towed vehicles such as towed vehicles. However, difficulties in the recruitment of skilled labour to operate such equipment and an aging workforce has led to increased operational costs, accidents resulting in human injury and damage to cargo, and delays in cargo processing time which fall short of the standards prescribed for cargo handling such as the those prescribed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA); and accidents caused by human error and fatigue.

C urrently, the process of linking up towing vehicles and towed vehicles is a manual and labour intensive process where human labour is required to connect a tow bar present on a towed vehicle with a corresponding contact point such as a ring attachment present on a towing vehicle or connect to another towed vehicle for the towed vehicles to be towed by a towing vehicle via a recess or attachment ring present atthe tip of the tow bar. This has several disadvantages. F irstly, each towed vehicle such as a cargo trailer currently carries a portable Unit Load Device (U LD) of payload up to 1 .5 to 2 tonnes. As towed vehicles such as heavy pallet dollys are able to carry increased load of up to 4 U LD, i.e. 8 tonnes per towed vehicle, it creates strain on manual labour to handle the increased payloads and to link up the towing vehicles and towed vehicles.

S econdly, the presence of a single contact point linking each towing vehicle and towed vehicle and between the towed vehicles using a tow bar results in a) swaying and snaking movements during the towing process, particularly during the turning process when moving in convoy, and b) greater sweep angle control and turning radius control required which varies with different loading conditions, load distribution across the U LDs, speed and turning radius when navigating bends and road junctions. A manual towing vehicle driver could suffer judgment error in swaying, turning radius, speed, vertical balancing as the driver navigates turns due to large permutations in load conditions and load distribution among 4 U LDs such as a AKE ) pertowing vehicle. The problem can be more pronounced as a towing vehicle needs to turn and apply emergency braking due to emergency situations or reverse. These factors cause error- prone judgments in human-driving leading to accidents. Mitigations with low- speed limit regulation (e.g. 15km/hour) reduces speed in the transportation of cargo and increased delays have not been able to eliminate accidents.

Attempts have been made to introduce autonomous towing vehicles to alleviate the manpower shortage in cargo handling. However, such autonomous unmanned towing vehicles have not been able to automate the connection of the towing vehicle and a towed vehicle without human intervention due to the complexity of connecting the towing vehicle to the towed vehicle using a tow bar present on a towed vehicle with a corresponding contact point such as a ring attachment present on a towing vehicle. This problem is made more complicated as a towed vehicle s two front wheels are in locked position (for safe operation in places such as airports) when at rest, where the tow bar is set in a position of approximately -1 5 or 80 degree to the horizontal plane. At -15 degrees to the horizontal plane, the tow bar is at rest on the ground. At 80 degrees to the horizontal plane, the tow bar is held in a substantially vertical position by a latch on a towed vehicle. The process of moving a tow bar on the towed vehicle from 80 degrees to the horizontal plane to a horizontal position in orderto release the two front wheels, and hooking or unlatching a safety latch of a towed vehicle are at present manual tasks that are not able to be automated in the current state of the art.

The present invention attempts to overcome at least in part some of the aforementioned disadvantages and to provide for alternative solutions that are safe, simple and reliable to operate, and increases productivity and quality assurance.

S U MMARY OF T H E INVE NTION

Throughoutthis document, unless otherwise indicated to the contrary, the terms ' comprising _, ' consisting of., and the like, are to be construed as non- exhaustive, or in other words, as meaning ' including, but not limited to_.

In accordance with a first embodiment of the invention, there is a towing vehicle for use with a towed vehicle comprising:- a main body;

a platform connected to the main body;

a connection assembly mounted on the platform, the connection assembly comprising one or more guiding members configured to releasably receive one or more corresponding connectors of the towed vehicle; and

a lifting means configured for lifting the platform in a direction such that the one or more guiding members are aligned for receiving the one or more corresponding connectors of the towed vehicle. P referably, the lifting of the platform releases the towed vehicle from its braking position.

P referably, the lifting means includes hydraulic actuators for moving the platform in an upward or downward direction.

P referably, the lifting means includes electrical actuators for moving the platform in an upward or downward direction.

P referably, the towing vehicle is an autonomous unmanned vehicle.

P referably, the towing vehicle is controlled by a detachable wired controller or a wireless remote controller.

P referably, the towed vehicle is a cargo trailer comprising a tow bar pivotable about a main frame of the towed vehicle, wherein when the tow bar is in a substantially vertical position, the towed vehicle is in a braking position.

P referably, the platform comprises a pair of substantially horizontal support members.

P referably, each of the one or more of guiding members comprise a recess, and the recess is substantially squarish in shape.

P referably, the recess is substantially complementary in shape with the one or more corresponding connectors on the towed vehicle.

P referably, each of the one or more guiding members comprises an abutting member that faces the rear of the main body, wherein the abutting member has a height that is greater than the one or more guiding members. In accordance with a second embodiment of the invention, there is a towed vehicle for use with a towing vehicle above, wherein the towed vehicle comprises one or more connectors configured to be releasably received by one or more corresponding guiding members present in the towing vehicle.

P referably, the towed vehicle is one of a cargo trailer, container trailer, pallet dolley, baggage trolley, baggage dolley, ground power unit or air start unit.

P referably, the cargo trailer, container trailer, pallet dolley, baggage trolley, baggage dolley, ground power unit or air start unit carries a portable Unit Load Device.

P referably, the towed vehicle comprises a tow bar pivotable about a main frame of the towed vehicle, wherein when the tow bar is in a substantially vertical position, the towed vehicle is in a braking position.

B RIE F DE S C RIPTION OF T H E DRAWING S

In the drawings, like reference characters generally refer to the same parts throughout the different views. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, with emphasis instead generally placed upon illustrating the principles of the present disclosure. It is to be noted that the accompanying drawings illustrate only examples of embodiments of this disclosure and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope, for the disclosure may admit to other equally effective embodiments. Various embodiments of the disclosure will be better understood in the light of the following description, made with reference to the drawings, wherein:

F igure 1 illustrates a perspective view of a towing vehicle according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

F igure 2 illustrates a top view of a towed vehicle according to an embodiment. F igure 3A illustrates a partial side view of the towed vehicle when in operation according to an embodiment.

F igure 3B illustrates a partial side view of the towed vehicle when in operation according to an embodiment.

F igure 4 illustrates a perspective view of a connection assembly according to an embodiment.

F igure 5A illustrates a top view of a bracket according to an embodiment.

F igure 5B illustrates a perspective view of the bracket according to an embodiment.

F igure 5C illustrates a rear view of the bracket according to an embodiment. F igure 5D illustrates a front view of the bracket according to an embodiment. P R E F E R R E D E MBODIME NT OF THE INVE NTION

Particular embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention. Other embodiments may be utilized, and structural, and logical changes may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. The various embodiments are not necessarily mutually exclusive, as some embodiments can be combined with one or more other embodiments to form new embodiments. Additionally, unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meanings as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs.

For purposes of description herein, the terms :upper dower, iright, :left :rear

:front vertical " :horizontal and derivatives thereof shall relate to orientations of various embodiments of the disclosure as would normally be prescribed to orientations of a vehicle from a driver s perspective. However, it is to be understood that the embodiments may assume various alternative orientations except where expressly specified to the contrary.

In the specification, the term :comprising shall be understood to have a broad meaning similar to the term line luding and will be understood to imply the inclusion of a stated integer or step or group of integers or steps but not the exclusion of any other integer or step or group of integers or steps. This definition also applies to variations on the term 'comprising such as :comprise and :comprises

In order that the invention may be readily understood and put into practical effect, particular embodiments will now be described by way of examples and not limitations, and with reference to the figures.

Various embodiments are provided for devices and various embodiments are provided for methods. It will be understood that the basic properties of the devices also hold for the methods and vice versa. Therefore, for sake of brevity, duplicate description of such properties may be omitted.

It will be understood that any property described herein for a specific device may also hold for any device described herein. It will be understood that any property described herein for a specific method may also hold for any method described herein. F urthermore, it will be understood that for any device or method described herein, not necessarily all the components or steps described must be enclosed in the device or method, but only some (but not all) components or steps may be enclosed.

The term :coupled or :connected herein may be understood as electrically coupled or as mechanically coupled, for example attached or fixed, or just in contact without any fixation, and it will be understood that both direct coupling or indirect coupling (in other words, coupling without direct contact) may be provided.

According to various embodiments of the invention, there is a towing vehicle 10 as depicted in F igure 1 for towing a towed vehicle. The towed vehicle may be a cart or a trailer for transporting tangible goods such as baggage, packages, retail goods or other items. The cart or trailer is capable of holding and transporting a container carrying a Unit Load Device (U LD). S uch containers can contain items such as baggage or items for delivery to an intended destination.

According to various embodiments, the towing vehicle 10 is an unmanned autonomous ground vehicle. The autonomous vehicle is designed to be capable of operating autonomously (for example navigating and driving) on paved roadways that are ordinarily used for aircraft or motor vehicle traffic. E xamples of paved roadways include streets, roads, highways, tunnels, airport runways and roads, etc. The autonomous vehicle is also designed to be capable of operating autonomously in a closed environment that may include human passenger traffic. These includes shopping malls, airport arrival and departure halls, warehouse facilities, commercial or industrial areas.

According to various embodiments, the towing vehicle 10 includes a main body 1 6 and a supporting frame 17. The main body 1 6 comprises essential components of an autonomous vehicle which can include a computer control system. The computer control system has a perception module, a navigation module, a communications module and a power source. The towing vehicle 10 may include a plurality of sensors for realizing environment mapping, accurate localization, obstacle avoidance, autonomous navigation, lane tracking and reverse docking. These sensors may include at least a LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) unit, an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit), at least one wheel encoder sensorfor each of the front and rearwheels, a radar unit a light sensor, a G P S unit, and/or an optical image sensor which work in concert with one another to provide a three dimensional view of an environment surrounding the towing vehicle. The physical dimensions of the towing vehicle 10 are preferably 1317mm (L) x 790mm (W) x 1 092mm (H).

The control system includes a controller unit which may be understood as any kind of a logic implementing entity, which may be special purpose circuitry or a processor executing software stored in a memory, firmware, or any combination thereof. Thus, in an embodiment, a controller unit may be a hard-wired logic circuit or a programmable logic circuit such as a programmable processor, e.g. a microprocessor (e.g. a C omplex Instruction S et C omputer (CIS C) processor or a Reduced Instruction S et C omputer (RIS C) processor). The controller unit may also be a processor executing software, e.g. any kind of computer program, e.g. a computer program using a virtual machine code such as e.g. J ava. The control system therefore directs and executes the implementation of the modules of the towing vehicle as described in this specification. Any other kind of implementation of the respective functions which will be described in more detail below may also be understood as a controller in accordance with an alternative embodiment.

The towing vehicle 10 has a navigation module that is capable of autonomously driving the vehicle to an intended destination. The navigation module further includes a G PS unit and a map building module. The map building module includes the integration of other maps, in addition to the conventional navigational maps, which may contain specific information about traffic or roadway infrastructure features. F or example, location of obstacles within a closed environment location of speed bumps or potholes, location of pedestrian crossings, high density human traffic areas, location of escalators or stairs or doors, etc. The map building module provides an accurate environment mapping achieved by a mapping algorithm by fusing data obtained from the wheel encoder sensors, the IMU and the LIDAR units. By integrating the linear velocity, angular velocity and linear acceleration obtained, an accurate location of the towing vehicle can be obtained. The computer control system is communicatively coupled to a remote wireless controller that is operated by a human orto a cloud-based or dedicated server through wireless network to be remotely controlled for autonomously navigating of the towing vehicle to a destination specified by the network server. The specific coordinates of the destination can be configured by a user on the wireless controller or server or input directly on the towing vehicle itself.

According to various embodiments, the towing vehicle 10 has a communication module that may comprise a radio communications unit such as a receiver, transmitter, transceiver (for example, cellular radio transceiver) and/or antenna. The radio communications unit may operate via any suitable radio link such as a cellular network, WiF i, satellite, or combinations thereof. The towing vehicle can be remotely operated by a user by a remote wireless controller or a detachable wired controller.

According to various embodiments, the control system has a perception module for detecting objects in its surroundings. The perception module includes associated computer hardware and software, sensors, detectors and emitters for example, a LIDAR unit a radar unit, optical image units, light sensors, etc.. The perception module collates image information and data from these units for processing the image information through its computer hardware and software. The perception module may use any of various types of sensors, including photodetectors (for example, in a camera or LIDAR), radar receiver, or sonar receiver. In some embodiments, the perception module uses a photodetector, such as an optical image sensor in a camera or photodiodes in a LIDAR .

The towing vehicle 10 may be propelled by any suitable power source, including conventional power sources such as gasoline or diesel, or alternative power sources such as battery-electric, natural gas, fuel cell, hybrid-electric, etc., or any combination thereof. As the towing vehicle 10 may be making mainly short trips, the vehicle may be powered by range limited power sources, such as by electricity accumulator units, for example batteries or capacitors. In some cases, the vehicle may be hybrid-electric powered, for example, electrically- powered in combination with a fuel engine. The towing vehicle is propelled by one or more motors, which can be electric or fuel powered. However, the vehicle should have sufficient power to maintain a reasonable speed that is capable of carrying the weight of the towed vehicle and its contents.

According to various embodiments, and as shown in F igure 2, the towing vehicle 10 comprises a platform coupled to the main body of the towing vehicle 10. The platform comprises a pair of elongated support members 12a, 12b extending substantially horizontally from the rear of the main body. A connection assembly 1 1 is mounted on the platform and includes a guiding member 1 9a, 19b on each support member 12a, 12b. E ach guiding member includes at least two walls that protrude vertically from each support member and is configured for guiding the placement of a corresponding connector 21 a, 21 b that is located on a towed vehicle. E ach guiding member comprises at least one recess 13a, 13b, each recess 13 being substantially complementary in shape to a corresponding connector 21 a, 21 b located on a towed vehicle 20, such thatthe towing vehicle may be connected to a towed vehicle by connection of the recesses located on the support members of the towing vehicle to the connectors 21 located on the towed vehicle. The physical dimensions of the brackets are preferably 192mm(L) x 142mm(W) x 180mm(H) comprising recesses of physical dimensions 1 62mm(L) x 125mm(W) x 70mm (H) to ensure a connection as depicted in F igures 3B and 3C . The physical dimensions of the recesses are varied to connect with different connectors of different physical dimensions for different trailer and vehicle types and load bearing weight.

According to various embodiments, it is envisaged that the platform may have a singular elongate support member having a guiding member for guiding the placement of the corresponding connector of the towed vehicle.

The guiding members 19 are mounted on the support members by secure means such as screws 28 and screw-holes 29. The guiding members are secured to the support members at different positions along the length of the support members 12 for connection with different trailer and vehicle types and load bearing weight such as container trailer, pallet dolley, heavy pallet dolley, baggage trolley etc.. P referably, the guiding members are positioned along the horizontal plane of the support members to be closer to the rear surface of the towing vehicle, such distance being shorter than the length of the tow bar on the towed vehicle for ease of control of the towed vehicle by the towing vehicle, and where the tow bar, in the substantially vertical position, does not contact the rear surface of the towing vehicle.

The height of each guiding member is designed not to stay within the maximum vertical lift range of the towing vehicle, while positioned below the towed vehicle during the connection of the recesses and the connectors before the towed vehicle is lifted. The height 30 of the guiding member allows for a snug connection between the recesses and connectors by providing guidance to an operator controlling the towing vehicle remotely or from a distance for positioning the connectors of the towed vehicle so that the connectors of the towed vehicle will fit snugly within the recesses of the towing vehicle as the platform is lifted. The height of the guiding member is designed to be positioned just below the chassis main frame of the towed vehicle to prevent the connectors from being dislodged when the towing vehicle tows the towed vehicle over uneven ground or humps. E ach guiding member further comprises of an abutting member 31 of a height which is greater that the height of the guiding members 30 to further ensure a snug connection between the recesses and connectors by preventing the connectors from moving forward such as to be dislodged from the recesses.

According to various embodiments, and as shown in F igure 3A, the towing vehicle 10 further comprises lifting means 14 for moving the platform in an upward direction to releasably connect the recesses 13 located on the support members of the towing vehicle with the connectors 21 located on the towed vehicle to ensure a snug connection between the recesses and the connectors. S imilarly, the lifting means will move the platform in a downward direction to release the connection of the recesses 13 located on the support members of the towing vehicle with the connectors 21 located on the towed vehicle once the towed vehicle has reached its intended destination.The lifting means for moving the platform in the upward and downward direction may be moved by means of actuators, for example, hydraulic and/or electrical actuators which are controlled by control system of the towing vehicle.. P referably, the recesses and the connectors are substantially squarish in shape to ensure a snug connection as depicted in F igures 5A, 5B, 5C and 5D.

According to various embodiments, and as shown in F igure 4, there is an option to attach a handle 1 5 on the supporting frame of the towing vehicle for manual towing of the towing vehicle 10. The handle 15 is positioned at between 0 to 90 degrees (0 degrees and 90 degrees inclusive) to the horizontal plane of the top surface of the towing vehicle for manual towing of the towing vehicle or for manual transportation of the towing vehicle.

According to various embodiments, the towing vehicle 10 has a light beacon 15 that flashes while it is moving from location to location. This may be useful to increase the conspicuousness of the vehicle and to proactively alert human or motor traffic to avoid accidents. The light beacon is positioned on the top of the main body or the supporting frame. F lashing lights may be produced in a suitable manner, including electrically-produced (for example, as a pulsing or burst-like flash) or mechanically-produced (for example, as a rotating light beam or reflective shield). The type and intensity of the flashing lights can be configured and controlled by the operator remotely in the circumstances or scenario as desired.

Padding 22 is preferably placed on the inward-facing surface 17 of the towing vehicle that may come into contact with a tow bar 23 of the towed vehicle 20, or alternatively on the tow bar to provide cushioning and to minimize physical impact when the tow bar of the towed vehicle 20 comes into contact with the inward-facing surface 17 of the towing vehicle, particularly when the towed vehicle is towed by the towing vehicle. To further minimize such physical impact the top surface of the towing vehicle comprises of a recess 18 as depicted in F igure 1 .

According to various embodiments, there is a towed vehicle 20 comprising a main frame and at least two connectors 21 a, 21 b located at the front end of the towed vehicle as depicted in F igure 2, each connector being substantially complementary in shape to a corresponding recess 13 of a guiding member of a towing vehicle, such that the towed vehicle may be connected to the towing vehicle by connection of the recesses 13 located on the guiding members 12 of the towing vehicle to the connectors 21 located on the towed vehicle 20.

The front end of the main frame of the towed vehicle 20 comprises a tow bar 23 and an attachment ring 26 located at the tip of the tow bar as depicted in F igure 3. E ach towed vehicle is linked to other towed vehicles via a plurality of interconnecting tow bars. The tow bar is pivotably connected to the main frame of the towed vehicle via a hinge 25 comprising of pivoting pins 24a, 24b.

The towed vehicle includes a braking mechanism (not shown) that is adapted to abut the wheels of the towed vehicle in a manner known in the art. The braking mechanism includes an actuatorarm operably coupled to a wheel chalk that abuts the wheels of the towed vehicle when actuated. The tow bar 23 is operably coupled to the actuator arm such that an upward movement of the tow bar 23 from its horizontal position to a substantially vertical position will activate the braking mechanism and cause actuation of the actuator arm to lock the towed vehicle in a stationary position. A downward movement of the tow bar from its substantially vertical position to a substantially horizontal position will deactivate the braking mechanism and release the brakes of the towed vehicle and allow it to move.

The tow bar 23 is manually rotatable from a horizontal position to a substantially vertical position of 80 degrees to the horizontal plane. The positioning of the tow bar at a substantially vertical position of -15 or 80 degrees to the horizontal plane functions as brakes for the towed vehicle, thereby bringing the towed vehicle to a stationery position. The tow bar is locked atthe substantially vertical position of 80 degrees to the horizontal plane by a latch 27 as depicted in F igure 3. At the maximum elevation of the tow bar at a substantially vertical position of 80 degrees to the horizontal plane, there is a gap of 2 to 4 centimeters between the tow bar and the rear surface of the towing vehicle to prevent physical contact.

In operation, the towing vehicle is first positioned below the main frame of the towed vehicle so as to align the guiding members located on the towing vehicle with the connectors located on the towed vehicle (as shown in F igure 3A). A lifting means of the towing vehicle then proceeds to lift in an upward direction the main body and the platform which in turns lift the guiding members of the towing vehicle to engage with the connectors located on the towed vehicle to ensure a snug connection between the recesses and the connectors. As a result of the engagement of the guiding members with the connectors of the towed vehicle, the towed vehicle is lifted slightly upon initial contact between the recesses and the connectors such that the front two wheels of the towed vehicle is lifted above the ground (as shown in F igure 3B) This transfers the weight of the front two wheels of the towed vehicle to the wheels of the towing vehicle, ensuring that the towed vehicle will brake sharply when the towing vehicle brakes, even when navigating junctions and bends, without swaying, thus ensuring close control of the towed vehicle by the towing vehicle.

The present invention has the following advantages:-

1 . The present invention ensures a snug connection between the towing vehicle and the towed vehicle which allows the towing vehicle to lift the front two wheels of the towed vehicle and to drag the towed vehicle. 2. The connection assembly of the present invention allows the towed vehicle to be moved even when the tow bar is at a substantially vertical position and the braking mechanism of the towed vehicle is still engaged.

3.The connection assembly of the towing vehicle increases the stability and predictability in movement of the towing vehicle and towed vehicles, eliminating swaying movement when turning at junctions or curves.

4. The present invention eliminates the need for manual labour to connect the towed vehicle to the towing vehicle, creating the foundation for autonomous unmanned systems to engage and disengage the towed vehicle completely on its own, and enables the towing of larger payload towed vehicle i.e. towed vehicle that could take multiple U LD, such as a pallet dolly (which is able to support two AKE ) and heavy pallet dolly (which is able to support four AKE ).

It should be appreciated by the person skilled in the art that the above invention is not limited to the embodiment described. In particular, the following modifications and improvements may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention:

6 The towing vehicle can be used to connect with tow trailers of higher load bearing weightage such as container trailers, pallet dollys, baggage trolleys, ground power unit air start unit by modifying such vehicles to be fitted with the connectors as described above.

It is to be understood that the above embodiments have been provided only by way of exemplification of this invention, and that further modifications and improvements thereto, as would be apparent to persons skilled in the relevant art, are deemed to fall within the broad scope and ambit of the present invention described herein. It is further to be understood that features from one or more of the described embodiments may be combined to form further embodiments.