Mobile Robots: New Products, Upgrades, and Business Strategies

Pratik Gundawar

Automation has become the focal point of various industries across the world. Whether it is a manufacturing or automobile industry, mobile robots are a crucial part in implementing automation. The requirement to improve workflow and efficiency of workers has led the e-commerce giants to deploy robotics solutions.

Amazon has acquired a tech company to enhance operations at its warehouses. Moreover, market players have understood the need for enhanced capabilities and offering innovative products along with upgrading its existing products to meet the requirements. These advanced solutions have helped in providing flexibility in planning and execution.

Novel solutions of the leading market players offer a cost-effective way to improve efficiency. Additionally, various strategies have enabled the industry to experience a boom and continue to flourish in coming years. According to the research firm Allied Market Research, the global mobile robots market is expected grow at a significant rate by 2025. Following are some of the activities taking place in the industry:

Acquisition to Improve Workflow

Acquisition of the tech company to improve operations through implementation of expertise is one of the major strategies implemented by tech giants. The autonomous mobile robot providers have risen in number in the few years as they help in fulfilling e-commerce orders and warehouse operations. Therefore, the companies take considerable efforts in improving navigation and safety of those robots. Amazon has acquired a tech firm named Canvas Technology Inc. to improve operations at its warehouses. The e-commerce giant has also acquired Kiva Systems Inc. in 2012 and rebranded it as Amazon Robotics. It utilized nearly 100,000 robots by 2017.

This gave an idea to other players to develop automated mobile robots and offer them to retailers and third-party logistics. These robots bring shelves of goods to human employees. In addition, there are many mobile robots working on the warehouse floors. The giant also added safety vests to gears used by warehouse workers. Moreover, Canvas Technology’s system would help the company in existing and small facilities. According to Mike Oitzman, managing editor at The Mobile Robot Guide, this acquisition would help Amazon in enhancing the person-to-goods workflow in the warehouses of Amazon.

Announcement of New Products & Upgrades in Existing Ones

New product launches and upgrades to existing products are the major steps taken by market players to improve their market share and enhance the product offering. For example, Waypoint Robotics Inc. launched MAV3K (known as Māy-vick), the newest addition to its autonomous mobile robot products. This new product has the capability to carry out 3,000 lb. Additionally, it has omni-directional mobility to carry out smooth and precise movement.

Jason Walker, co-founder and CEO of Waypoint Robotics, says that MAV3K has been under development phase from past three years. In this size group, no autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) exist. These AMRs comply with the safety standards of the Robotic Industries Association and weighs nearly 1,000 lb. There are three layers of security, safety stop, decelerate to zero (DTZ), and decelerate to slow (DTS). Moreover, the fourth layer aids obstacle avoidance in the autonomous navigation. There are signal relays and various components for safety. The hardware-level security enables lidar to slow the robot without the help of any software.

IAM Robotics

IAM Robotics upgraded its Swift product and announced the updates at ProMat 2019. The updated design includes integration of conveyer and transport robot that collaborates with Swift to exchange empty or full totes. The developments in material selection and autonomous navigation along with handling have potential to solve the challenges during operations. Additionally, i t will accelerate e-commerce environments. From past few years, the company has outlined the advancements in AMRs for the mobile robots industry.

The firm has outlined the updates to its Swift solution in the logistics industry in health & beauty, grocery, pharmaceuticals, and packaged goods. With new additions, IAM stated that its updated robots would offer seamless operations. Moreover, the updated sleeker Swift design provides a smooth lift and a fixed tote for automatic tote transfer. In addition, the adjustable carriage is able to reach the height of existing conveyor infrastructure in the facility. Joel Reed, CEO of IAM Robotics, stated that the logistics industry demands that autonomous mobile robots offer flexibility for planning and execution. IAM has been offering innovative solutions for navigation, material selection, and tote transfer.

Mobile Robots Solutions for Warehousing Applications

The warehouse industry has experienced a rapid growth and there is an enormous pressure on warehouse workers to find a cost-effective way for improving efficiency. There is a huge demand for flexible automation solutions. Mobile robots can offer an effective solution for this. Locus Robotics Corp. received $26 million in Series C funding, which will be utilized for development of innovative mobile robots for order fulfillment of e-commerce applications. The multi-bot system of Locus includes LocusBots and the LocusEmpower software. The software integrates the bots with the warehouse management systems. Along with speeding up the development of its products, the funding would help in extending its leadership with new deployments in the European markets.

Another tech firm named Geek+ announced different mobile robots solutions that can be utilized for order fulfillment and warehousing. These solutions can also be used for e-commerce applications. Carmen Hung, manager of sales and marketing, outlined that the firm has successfully installed several products in Europe and Asia. Its latest version of P800 mobile robot can go under the shelves of products for exploring and bring the explored products to the center location.

This solution enables workers to enhance productivity and save time when they need something to be picked up. Machine learning algorithms power these robots and improves the accuracy of picking. Its recent model is able to handle the load of nearly 2,600 pounds and moves with nearly 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second). The company also launched its C200 series, a robot shuttle system. This system is useful for single as well as double layer rack. It can carry a load of nearly 88 pounds (40 kilograms). It can move through storage aisles, collect the required orders, and replace them with others.

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