faqs

The 11 most frequently asked questions about autonomous mobile robotics

  • Robotnik is a leader in autonomous and collaborative mobile robotics. Do you have questions about how it works, the applications, the advantages it can bring to your company? We have all the answers!

Collaborative mobile robotics is already a reality in many companies. According to the Fortune Business Insights report, 'the global autonomous mobile robot (AMR) market size was $1.67 billion in 2020'. However, many of them, especially SMEs, still have multiple doubts about how this technology can help their companies. As a leading company in the industry, we receive numerous queries in this regard. The first phase of any industrial implementation is the analysis phase and, from this phase, a multitude of unknowns arise. Today we have compiled the most representative questions in this article.

 

1. Difference between AGVs and AMR

AGVs (Automatic Guided Vehicles) have existed since the 1950s, normally for the transport of heavy loads. Their main characteristic is that they run on a lane or belt and follow a predetermined route. More advanced AGVs, on the other hand, are capable of detecting obstacles, but not of re-routing, so that when they encounter an obstacle, the robot will stop.


There are many differences and advantages of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) over traditional AGVS (as can be seen in a previous article on Robotnik's blog). One of the main differences is that AMRs use free navigation by means of lasers, while AGVs are located with fixed elements: magnetic tapes, magnets, beacons... This means that in warehouses and places where the work environment is shared with humans, AMRs work better due to their dynamism and efficiency to share tasks.

 

2. In which areas or sectors can collaborative mobile robotics be applied?

It is difficult to say in which sectors it can be applied because Robotnik's experience shows that it is applicable to absolutely any sector.
Flexibility, collaboration between machines and people and diversification into new sectors and business models are setting the pace for robotics in 2021, according to the conclusions published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

Particularly in Robotnik, we work with very diverse sectors: industrial, agri-food, health, defense or rescue, construction, logistics, academic...

In the end, the sector is autonomous mobile robotics, therefore, any area that needs to automate a task through this type of robots, is part of Robotnik's target.

To be specific, it is true that the most demanded application by industrial customers is the transport of loads from one point to another or pick and place in the case of mobile manipulators. In addition, Robotnik's robots have the capacity to combine the process in indoor and outdoor environments, one of the competitive advantages of the company and the reason why many customers choose it. Many companies require transport to be carried out both indoors and outdoors (e.g., when they have several buildings), so the most optimal solution is for the same vehicle to carry it out.

Other applications that are also common: picking tasks (in collaboration with an operator to speed up the order process), inspection applications (the robot can send an alert if it detects something out of place, normally thermography is used for this purpose) and surveillance or security (instead of the traditional fixed camera, the robot can travel around different points of a warehouse or factory, so it covers more points), selective spraying in agriculture, fruit inspection...

 

3. What exactly is an autonomous mobile robot?

There is a certain belief that an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) is simply a programmed machine and this is not the case. An autonomous robot must have the independence to make decisions in a work environment, without the need for human intervention.
There are many industrial machines that, when they perceive an obstacle, do not have the ability to decide, for example, to change their route. Therefore, these machines cannot be considered AMRs.
For a robot to be truly autonomous, it must perceive and understand the environment, making decisions that allow it to operate in the most effective way, even if the environment is changing.

 

4. What happens if the robot encounters an obstacle?

Robotnik integrates sensors and various components into its robots that receive, process and analyses data in real time and act accordingly. In other words, when an autonomous mobile robot encounters an obstacle on its route, such as a pallet, it will recalculate the route if possible or stop if it detects that it could harm the operators.

5. What are the phases of an industrial implementation project?

First of all, the application in which you want to use mobile robotics must be analysed. If it is viable, a technical and economic offer is drawn up. Then a pilot project is carried out, which is already part of the development of the project.
These projects require almost no maintenance, so that once the installation is optimised, the customer can manage it autonomously, thanks to the tools that Robotnik provides: Fleet Management System and User Interface.

6. How will automation affect my employees?

As we have said before, autonomy gives the robot the ability to know and recognise the environment in which it is working. This gives the operators more working capacity, as they do not have to be aware of the robot.

Therefore, this will be a first change for workers: to be able to focus on the tasks they perform without the need to supervise the robot and to free themselves from mechanical, heavy and even dangerous activities.

Undoubtedly, one of the questions that most concerns society is how robots will transform the workplace. A few months ago, Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation, said that the trend is for ‘better, safer, higher-paying jobs to be created by robotics, as technology increases what people do best, while doing the jobs people don't want to do’.

Throughout history, as technology has advanced, thousands of processes have been automated in factories that have improved the quality of life for their workers, this need be no different in the case of collaborative robotics.

 

7. How do I train my employees to coexist with mobile robotics?

One of the main advantages of Robotnik's AMRs is their easy configuration and installation thanks to their open software and hardware, which allows them to be adapted to the specific needs of the client and/or the application. In the end, this translates into quick and easy commissioning.

It may happen that in the staff of a factory or warehouse there are workers with a technical profile capable of leading the integration of robotics, but this is not usual. The service provided by the Engineering Department is one of the most appreciated aspects of Robotnik. A few months ago, Mr. Con Cronin of KOSTAL Ireland GmbH coined a review for us that spoke precisely of this: 'Robotnik's staff have always accompanied us in the process, going beyond their field of work. Robotnik engineers have developed a proof of concept and transformed it into a system ready for real production'.

 

8. What are the most disruptive technologies associated with robotics today?

Right now, you cannot understand robotics without talking about 5G, Artificial Intelligence or augmented reality. Another example of the most technologically innovative points: at Robotnik we not only work with 2D navigation but we are already using 3D.

 

9. How is AI used in robots?

Collaborative mobile robotics is evolving hand in hand with Artificial Intelligence. In the end, at Robotnik we develop autonomous mobile robots that will share space with humans and this implies that they have the ability to "think" for themselves in certain situations and make decisions that a human would make, but being a machine.

 

10.  What does it mean for a robot to integrate ROS architecture?

In recent years, ROS has become a standard in Service Robotics, and great advances are being made in the industrial sector.

Most robots and components on the market are supported in ROS, but sometimes it is not easy to find out which ones are, which version they support or how to acquire them. In the end, it is about finding a way to help the development of robotic applications, facilitating the communication between sensors and algorithms, following the paradigm of "program once, test everywhere".

One of our main objectives is to link the products with their drivers and/or software for ROS, detailing how they are installed and configured and where tutorials or useful information can be found, among other aspects.

 

11. What are the most important components/sensors of a collaborative mobile robot?

Robotnik's mobile robots have multiple integration possibilities but among the most prominent would-be LiDAR devices, cameras, collaborative arms (for example, those of Universal Robots) or environmental sensors.

Of course, special mention should be made of safety lasers, the basis for collaborative autonomous localization and navigation.

 


5g valencia

The spanish Vice-president Nadia Calviño visits Valencia to learn first-hand about the Pilotos 5G project

  • Valencia has been the location to show the advances in 5G technology within the Pilotos 5G project, in which Robotnik, Orange, Elewit, Vysion or CFZ Cobots, among other partners that make up the UTE, have joined forces to develop new applications of this technological standar,

The First Vice-President of the Government and Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, attended one of the most important events of this 2021 in Valencia on Thursday 9 September to see, first-hand, some of the demonstrations that are being developed around 5G technology in different areas.

One of the pilots that took place live at La Marina de Valencia was Remote Inspection and Maintenance with Robots. In this use case, Robotnik collaborates with Orange and Huawei to carry out inspection and maintenance of electrical and railway infrastructures, using robots remotely controlled thanks to the 5G network for the Generalitat Valenciana and the electricity company Viesgo. Remote control of robots in complicated terrain requires high information transmission capacity (high quality images) and ultra-low latency.

summit-xl

Roberto Guzmán, CEO of Robotnik, showed the media and the various authorities who attended the event, the benefits of 5G technology in the field of mobile robotics and how the company is working on the 5G Pilots project through two use cases.

This work will translate into great opportunities for development and a sustainable future that will benefit different productive sectors and the business fabric in Spain.

After taking an interest in the evolution of each of the use cases, the minister said that "this is probably the most pleasant event of my week", and expressed her satisfaction at seeing how much progress the project has made in such a short time "what was a list of projects a year and a half ago is now a reality".

There is no doubt that this project brings great advances for both industry and other sectors, which will result in significant progress and benefits for society.

rb-vogui
Below is a compilation of some of the information published about the event:

Una UTE liderada por Orange presenta las aplicaciones del 5G , Las Provincias

Calviño asiste en València a demostraciones sobre el uso de tecnología 5G , Agencia EFE

València, como nunca se ha visto , Levante-emv

Calviño supervisa los avances del 5G en València , Levante-emv

Nadia Calviño asiste en València a experiencias 5G que avanzan el futuro del turismo, la telemedicina, la agricultura y el mantenimiento de infraestructuras críticas , Orange

Valencia, nodo clave para el desarrollo del 5G en España , Nobbot

 


industrial mobile robots

What is an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR)? What Robotnik arm brings to your business

  • Introduction to autonomous mobile robots and what you should consider before choosing.
  • Robotnik's mobile robots have advantages that bring competitive value to your industry. We tell you why.

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) have changed the automation landscape in industry, especially in collaborative environments. 

Collaborative mobile robotics is an aid in the execution of repetitive processes, adapting the movements of robots to the information they receive, process and share, as demonstrated by Robotnik's developments.

The purpose of this post is to tell in more detail what are the advantages of Robotnik's AMRs and how they add value to your company. At the same time, it is intended to show the real use of these devices from the perspective of a company with 19 years of experience in the sector, since in reality we find in the market many products that are marketed as AMR and they are not. 

mobile robot

Flexibility, collaboration between machines and people and diversification into new sectors and business models are setting the pace for robotics in 2021, according to the conclusions published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

The reader should understand that an autonomous mobile robot is not simply a programmed machine. An autonomous robot is one that, in addition to the initial programming, has the independence to make decisions in the working environment, without the need for human intervention. In other words, not every industrial machine is an AMR because not every machine has the capacity to make decisions based on the information it perceives (unforeseen obstacles, for example). 

And how does it perceive this information? Robotnik integrates in its robots sensors, computer systems that receive, process and analyze data in real time and act accordingly. 

AGV vs AMR

Although there are some similarities between the two, an AGV is not an autonomous mobile robot. 

AGVs have been around since the 50s, usually for the transport of heavy loads, but they drive along a specific lane or conveyor belt and along a predetermined route. Another feature of the most advanced AGVs is that they are capable of detecting obstacles but not of re-routing: when they encounter an obstacle, they will stop. 

The flexibility of AMRs to work in different locations means, for example, no change in layout, easier scalability in terms of number of units and work zones or ROI (which can be measured more easily with a smaller, later scalable project).

AMRs use free navigation by means of lasers, while the others are located with fixed elements: magnetic tapes, magnets, beacons, etc....

This means that in warehouses and places where the work environment is shared with humans, AMRs work better because of their dynamism and efficiency in sharing tasks. In addition, autonomous mobile robots have much more advanced software and hardware that provide more efficient applications.

mobile robot

Why has automation and collaborative mobile robotics grown so much in industry?

While this topic could be covered in another detailed article, it is important to highlight, if only briefly, some of the reasons for the boom in recent years in the introduction of AMRs in the industrial sector:

  • Cost reduction
  • Improved operator safety 
  • Increased performance and productivity
  • Versatility and flexibility
  • ROI - Return on Investment. 

Robotnik designs, manufactures and markets autonomous mobile robots and mobile manipulators since 2002.

The wide experience in the sector makes Robotnik a reference company in mobile robotics in the world and leader in Europe.

 

Main advantages of Robotnik's AMRs

  • Easy configuration and installation: adapting to the needs of each customer, with an open software and hardware, which allows it to adapt to the specific needs of the customer and/or the application. In the end, this translates into a quick and easy start-up. 
  • Competitiveness: Robotnik has the best price-quality ratio in the market. Mobile robotics is no longer exclusive to large companies; many SMEs have already integrated Robotnik mobile robotics in their companies, making the leap towards Industry 4.0.
  • Customization: Robotnik has the ability to create and develop new prototypes that are fully adapted to customer needs. Each project requires a mobile robot with specific characteristics, and it is necessary to adjust an appropriate robotic solution for the consumer to obtain the maximum benefit. 

 

  • Adaptability: thanks to the ability to make decisions, these robots carry out activities that complement, improve or replace those carried out by an operator. For a robot to be truly autonomous, it must perceive and understand the environment and make decisions to operate in the most effective way, even if the environment changes or obstacles arise. In other words, autonomy gives the robot the ability to know and recognize the environment in which it is working. This gives operators greater working capacity, as they do not have to be aware of the robot. 
  • Autonomy: Autonomy: today's AMRs cover full work shifts, allowing them to work 24/7. The robots are equipped with automatic charging stations, so they can recharge their battery autonomously when needed.
  • Collaborative: One of society's biggest concerns is how robots will transform the workplace. According to Jeff Burnstein, president at Association for Advancing Automation the trend is that "better, safer and better-paying jobs will be created thanks to robotics, as technology increases what people do best, while doing the jobs that people don't want to do". In this sense, the expert anticipates an improvement in public perception of robots, which will come to be seen as helpers. Collaborative mobile robots are designed to share workspace with people, ensuring their safety and performing tasks that would be repetitive, heavy or unsafe for operators.
  • Omnidirectional movement: allows time reduction, making it up to 5 times faster than a differential one in a large number of tasks. 
  • HMI (Human-Machine Interface): Advanced user interface that allows the robot to be monitored and controlled remotely, as well as the generation and configuration of new work environments: mapping, definition of routes and waypoints. The HMI functionalities are adapted to the robot capabilities, offering features such as real-time remote teleoperation, indoor and outdoor navigation handlers, creation of complex missions, and a mission scheduler system. This tool is very useful for the customer to be able to control the different operations from any device connected to the robot's network. It is also possible to connect remotely from anywhere in the world to robots equipped with 4G/5G connectivity.

 

mobile robot

 

  • FMS: Fleet Management System to coordinate a fleet of robots that share the same workspace and resources with the operators. The FMS user interface shows the global status of the workspace and all the deployed robots, and offers an abstraction layer that allows users to interact with a single system. Missions, which can be generated automatically or manually, are assigned by a planning system to the most suitable robot at that moment. As the system is connected to both the robot fleet and the workspace shared resources, it can monitor every mission and modify them accordingly to avoid interlocks. The FMS is able to actuate elements such as elevators, doors, or conveyors, and it can exchange information with other agents using standard communication protocols.

It is aptly explained in Mobile Robot Guide: 'Mobile robots are a unique combination of mechanical and electrical systems, together with innovative software capabilities. The basic designs of a mobile robot system are no longer rocket science. The magic now resides in the software applications which supervise a mobile robot fleet and which enable the mobile robots to perceive their world and navigate effectively and efficiently'.

 

 


industry 4.0

Mobile robots and safety: the experience of Robotnik in HR-RECYCLER project

Collaborative robots have come front and center on the international stage as they’ve become widespread in Industry 4.0. Today we have more powerful, more advanced and more productive robots, so safety has become a key element.

Safety is the key

For Robotnik, as an experimented robot manufacturer and within the collaborative environment of the HR-Recycler project, this aspect is especially important since humans and robots will be working side by side. The solution proposed to routing materials inside a factory has to be done in a safe manner, in this case, the robots designed are the RB-KAIROS+ (mobile robotic manipulator) and the RB-ARES (pallet truck). It’s really important how the mobile robots  will show the intention of motion, elevate or manipulation.  

industry 4.0

 

To ensure the correct operation within the complex framework of this project, Robotnik has equipped its robots with sensors and signalers that allow the robot to proceed safely and show its intentions in advance. 

There are a number of ways manufacturers can introduce safety measures in their automated operations. The type and complexity of these safety measures will vary by the robotic application, with the aim to make the mobile robot safer, there are certain safety rules and standards that these collaborative robots must comply with, in Europe are found in EN ISO 3691-4:2020 and ISO 12100:2010 6.4.3

rb-ares mobile robot

Clarifying the ISO standard

This post aims to give to the reader a brief description about what, why and how all the premises of the ISO will be reached.

First of all, what does the normative include? The standards on warning systems say:

  1. When any movement begins after a stop condition of more than 10 seconds, a visible or acoustic warning signal will be activated for at least 2 seconds before the start of the movement.
  2. A visible or acoustic warning signal will be activated during any movement.
  3. If the human detection means are active, the signal will be different.
  4. When robots change their direction from a straight path, a visible indication will be given of the direction to take before the direction changes in case that the robot is driving autonomously.
  5. When the lift is active, there must be special signage.

The solution proposed is a two-steps software that will manage the signals of the robot, explained after the diagram and on red cells:

The robot_local_control is a manager node, it has information about the status of the whole robot, that is, status of the elevator, goal active, mission ended, etc. On the right side, a group of nodes that manages the movement of the robot with a level of priority:

  • Robotnik_pad_node:  The worker uses a PS4 pad to control the robot and this node will transmit the orders, non autonomous mode. 
  • Path planning nodes: like Move_base, it controls the robot and we speak of it as autonomous mode.

Robotnik has installed on its mobile robots  two ways to alert facility users, acoustic devices or light indicators through the acoustic_safety_driver and leds_driver.

industry 4.0

As you can see, there are two steps to link the top and bottom parts, a node to transform the movement into signals to show the intention of the robot and another one to orchestrate the both signal types and manage the requirements of the normative. 

The turn_signaling_controller aims to solve the first and the fourth requirements of the normative depending on the robot mode (autonomous or not autonomous). 

In non autonomous mode, and as the norm says, the motion depends on an appropriately authorised and trained personnel so it is enough to show that the robot is moving by reading the movement command and checking the velocity applied. 

In autonomous mode the robot navigates to a goal point through a path calculated by the planner, furthermore it manages the AGV to avoid obstacles dynamically and for this reason it is important to alert workers every moment.

What is the process?

This is a very brief description of the function, it bears the plan in mind and recalculates at the same time that the planner does just to be able to show the most up-to-date prediction of motion.

Last but not least, the robot_signal_manager aims to solve the rest of the problems since it has access to the robot status, it shows a light signaling or an acoustic signal 2 seconds before the motion, it gives priority to the emergency signals (consistent with the behaviour of the robot, red signals means that the robot will be stopped) and the signals that are not exclusive are showed using beacons or acoustic signals.

The occupied zone is one of the non exclusive signals, robots have some extra beacons that blinks on red when there is something on the protective zone (close to the intention of motion of the robot, inside the critic zone) and on yellow when there is something on the warning zone (near the protective zone).

 

Summarizing

Safety is not only stopping the robot or avoiding a crash when human-robot collaboration takes place. With the development of these nodes Robotnik aims not only to decrease the probability of accident or comply with the safety ISO premises, but also to help workers feel more comfortable with the mobile robot’s decisions and bring human-robot collaboration closer, showing clear signals about how the robot will perform.


robots in logistics

RB-VOGUI, a collaborative robot for outdoor transport in industry

The Eurecat technology center and Robotnik Automation have developed the RB-VOGUI, a highly modular, autonomous and collaborative land robot designed for the autonomous transport of materials in the industrial and construction sectors, with a design that provides an advanced human-robot collaboration system.

As part of the European COBOLLEAGUE project, the robot is focused on autonomous navigation in outdoor industrial environments, which are characterized by uneven terrain and a wide variety of static and dynamic obstacles.

It is a highly mobile, all-terrain modular mobile base suitable for transporting loads of up to 200 kg.  Its design includes features that enable people tracking, gesture detection and voice-based control.

RB-VOGUI is able to generate a map of its environment and to locate and navigate it safely, being able to perform inter-plant transport tasks or last-mile transport tasks This map is also capable to identify all obstacles as well as possible cliffs and holes where the robot can fall through or collect data in construction environments that can then be used in conjunction with the building information modelling system BIM (Building Information Modeling).

Utility of mobile robotics in industry

According to Roberto Guzman, CEO of Robotnik, "the COBOLLEAGUE project demonstrates, once again, the utility of mobile robotics for applications in which repetitive tasks are performed, in this case, automating outdoor transportation in industry and construction. Our experience of almost 20 years in service robotics allows us to adapt our general purpose robots to different verticals, being able to provide mobile solutions in a wide variety of applications and sectors".   

In the words of the director of the Eurecat Robotics and Automation Unit, Daniel Serrano, "after more than a decade of R&D in location and autonomous navigation, in this project we have managed to develop a 3D location and mapping that takes advantage of the building model extracted directly from BIM. This project demonstrates the potential of the application of service robots in the construction sector, with many possibilities for the future".

Robotnik in Cobolleague project

Within the Cobolleague project, Robotnik has been responsible for the provision of the mechatronic solution and the development of the conceptual design, safety and human factors, as well as business case validation and industrial engagement. A new kinematic configuration has been developed to give the RB-VOGUI robot chassis greater mobility and allows it to perform autonomous transport tasks in urban environments or in unstructured environments with difficult terrain. A 3D laser localization and navigation system has been developed that has proven to work robustly, both indoors and outdoors.

mobile robot

Eurecat in Cobolleague project

For its part, Eurecat has been responsible for developing a BIM (Building Information Model) based interface that processes 3D building information, adding structural data to a simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) system used by a mobile robot. Thus, the robot can access a 3D map of the reference model and determine its own location in the construction environment, saving time and performing autonomous navigation to a destination, without first exploring the map. 

Futhermore, Eurecat's implementation allows tracking the status of construction and flagging updates to the reference model, a relevant feature for the construction industry. Eurecat also provides the integration of a multimodal worker-robot interface, so that the robot follows the workers in complete safety. 

COBOLLEAGUE has been supported by the ESMERA (European SMEs Robotics Applications) project, in its call for robotic solutions to industrial challenges. ESMERA is a consortium formed by four technology centers (the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Automation Systems of the University of Patras; the Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives; and the Tekniker Foundation and Technische Universität München), and three industrial partners (Blue Ocean Robotics; COMAU; and R.U. Robots).

Video demostration here.


Smart factories: how robots are leading industry changes

Smart factories are production companies and factories with a level of automation and digitalization that allows them to take advantage of the potential of the latest technologies to improve their productivity and create more flexible and streamlined processes.

These types of factories operate within the realms of Industry 4.0, also known as the Connected Industry. In this industry, what stands out most is how data and information flows are created, as well as the involvement of robots and humans in those processes.

When we speak of smart factories, that implies mobile robotics autonomous and collaborative robots that enable intelligent automation and the creation of safer, more productive work environments where the interaction between machines and humans ensures optimal use of each of their qualities and capabilities.

What are the characteristics of a smart factory?

To understand why collaborative robotics is one of the key players in Industry 4.0 - promoting innovative changes and creating new production methods - then we must begin by understanding the features that determine whether an industry is operating intelligently or not.

Automation of processes

This process of automation doesn’t set out to replace manpower; it aims to optimize tasks through the use of new technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, or the Internet of Things.

These automated solutions give access to a wealth of data that generates more information, reduces uncertainty, and increases process control.

Flexibility

Production and market environments are increasingly changing and the survival of many companies depends on their degree of adaptability to new customer needs or demands. 

To be able to cope with this, they first need to create a streamlined, flexible industrial workspace that can adapt to change, without needing to incur large losses. In this way, automation allows for greater versatility without suffering production downtime.

Redesigning the production line

Connectivity and automation are responsible for making collaborative robotics and intelligent mobile manipulators more accessible for all types of industries and all sizes of companies. 

So, we can see that production volumes don’t create so many competitive advantages anymore; these days competitiveness revolves more around the ability to streamline the assembly line processes with fewer resources, and to create higher quality products at a lower cost.

Focusing on work strengths

It is important to bear in mind that smart factories don’t dispense with the human workforce; they strive to relocate them to take care of more value tasks.

Collaborative robots are designed to assist humans; their function is to interact with them and function under their control in order to take care of their speciality: repetitive tasks carried out uniformly and at a constant speed.

Mobile robotics solutions at the forefront of Industry 4.0

Robotnik is an expert in the design and manufacture of mobile robots and mobile manipulators that are used as automated solutions for different applications and services, and especially for logistics.

mobile manipulator in warehouse

Mobile robotics for logistics by taking over the tasks of transporting and picking materials, and, in turn, freeing operators from repetitive and tedious tasks where efficiency and effectiveness can be lost.

The mobile robots are controlled by a Fleet Management System that simplifies the handling of the robots and creates safe, efficient transport routes, where robots can work in the same environment as operators.

Mobile manipulators are a very useful automated solution in smart factories because they permit you, above all, to save time and improve the efficiency of any given process.

Mobile manipulators are extremely useful for industrial applications such as pick and place, part feeding, metrology, quality control, operations on large parts or packaging, cleaning, polishing, screwing or drilling.

The main advantage of a mobile manipulator is its capacity to expand the cobot workspace unlimitedly. In the case of RB-KAIROS+ from Robotnik's it should be noted its omni-directional movement which allows the reduction of times, making it 1/5 times faster than a differential.

The simplification of mechanical processes is the greatest added value that collaborative mobile robots can bring to the industry, leaving creativity to people.


robotics in warehousing

Collaborative Robots vs Industrial Robots: key differences

When we talk about Industry 4.0, we can’t help but talk about collaborative robots and how this intelligent automated solution has been a turning point in the integration of new technologies in industry.

Industry 4.0 has been made possible thanks to the extensive experience already obtained in the field of industrial robotics and its presence on the production lines to automate tasks in a wide variety of sectors, all with the aim of improving productivity, efficiency, and quality.

We would quite possibly never be talking about collaborative robots without the original development of industrial robots and their evolution towards the design of intelligent automated solutions, based on interaction with humans.

mobile industrial robotics

Because of this, none of these types of robotics is better than the other,  they are complimented tools. Rather they are complementary, they are automated systems developed for different types of needs and objectives. It is, therefore, essential to understand what they are, what they contribute to industry, their key differences, and how they facilitate coexistence and work coordination.

Industrial robots

Industrial robots were created as an automated solution to take on intensive production tasks that require a constantly moving assembly line.

They are generally large and heavy, and placed in fixed positions within the industrial plant, configured with modules that do not have force sensors.

These robots are designed and configured to work automatically and intensively, their priority being the constant execution of their tasks. In addition, they need a fenced safety area to protect the human operators around them. 

Industrial robots are designed to perform a single task with high precision and speed. It doesn’t need to be moved, and so its positioning is a priority. The rest of the workers' tasks and processes are adapted to fit in with the robot’s capabilities and workload.

In the case of mobile robotics, we could tell that the first step in the industrial sector were the AGVs. These types of robots require physical elements to function (magnets, beacons ...), so they imply a modification of the layout, they are not capable of overcoming obstacles and the same robot doesn't have the same flexibility that a CMR does to work in different locations.

Collaborative robots

The collaborative robots are automated solutions designed to work interactively with humans. To facilitate this, they are specially designed to be quite compact and lightweight, thus ensuring they can be easily moved and take up little space in a plant’s working areas.

Collaborative robots are designed to work with people, and so safety is key. For that reason, they have built-in movement detection sensors which ensure that they can alter their operations or speed to facilitate safe shared-working environments.

mobile industrial robotics

They aren’t designed to carry out just one specific task, but, rather, to simplify the different processes that they may be involved in. This is why adaptability and flexibility are priorities in their design, as well as being easy to programme in order to carry out their different tasks optimally. 

The Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR) have numerous advantages compared to traditional AGVS and help to reduce production costs for their rapid installation, flexibility, space saving, improved safety in the workspace and represent an aid for operators. As we have already mentioned before, they do not require physical elements and can work in different locations.

What are the differences between industrial robots and Collaborative Robots?

In general terms, the differences lie in the purpose they have been designed and developed for.

As far as industrial robots are concerned, they are designed to automate tasks and improve productivity, efficiency, and quality. They are created to perform a single task, but they can perform it so efficiently that they become essential for the optimal operation of an assembly line.  Is the case of industrial arms in sectors such us automotion or alimentation, for example.

So, as you can see, we’re talking here about robots with a high degree of specialization, and a complex configuration carried out by experts, involving the creation of a workspace that requires specific safety measures. In addition to this, there are electricity, operation, and maintenance costs.  

A cobot, on the other hand, is a collaborative robot, which means they are automated tools created to operate under the guidelines of an operator, with whom it works in a coordinated and safe manner, all in the same workspace. This makes it capable of executing a single task or intervening in different tasks, depending on the production needs and the parameters it has been configured with.

mobile robot in warehouse

Because of this, a collaborative robot stands out for its versatility and ease of programming. This means that it can be easily integrated into the production line and can be operated and configured by an operator with basic knowledge.

This type of robot is able to free operators up from repetitive and precision-demanding tasks, thus helping to improve productivity and the quality of the result. This adaptability and interactive working influence their cost, as cobots stand out for their quick return on investment.

The CMR are perfect for autonomous transport loads and the mobile manipulators are designed for tasks such as pick&place, part feeding,  packaging, cleaning, polishing, screwing or drilling.

So, as we can see, both industrial robots and collaborative robots have their place on the production line, with the former conceived as a replacement for human workers, and the latter as a helper and ally to improve work efficiency.


Top robotics companies: Robotnik

Top robotics companies: why Robotnik is between them?

Today, robotics is part of our day to day, helping to optimize and automate tasks and making life easier for people. Like many others, this has been a natural process that we have reached due to numerous factors such as, for example, labour shortages in some sectors; the decrease in the world labour force (due to the low birth rate and aging); the search for automations that avoid human error and also the automation of those heavy, repetitive or simple jobs. If you want to know why Robotnik is between the top robotics companies, just keep reading!

The importance of human and robots 

What is collaborative robotics and what does it contribute?

In relation to this last aspect, we find collaborative robotics, which t is presented as one more working tool, as an aid for workers and operators. These are robots that can work safely in environments where there are people, without physical barriers. This has undoubtedly been the definitive step and made by the top robotics companies. Robots can be as just another co-worker. If we add to this the simplicity of its installation, its ease of use and that they can perform a wide number of tasks, it is understood that collaborative robots are present in any company that is in the so-called industry 4.0.

 

How the ​best robotics companies help create jobs

If we put into focus the idea that collaborative robots often perform repetitive, heavy and sometimes even dangerous tasks, we can go beyond the hackneyed concept that robots replace traditional labour and frame it in a new concept about processes improvement. That is, seeing collaborative robotics as one more aid to produce better, so that the company/industry is as efficient as possible.

Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics, assures that: “Productivity increases and competitive advantages of automation don´t replace jobs – they will automate tasks, augment jobs and create new ones.”

Companies around the world are increasing their use of industrial robots: in five years, the global operating stock increased by approximately 65% ​​to 2.4 million units (2013-2018).

 

And which are the top robotics companies in the market? Robotnik is one of them

Robotnik is specialized in mobile robotics. Since 2002, the year of its foundation, it designs, manufactures, and markets robots and mobile manipulators.

Currently, our robots are present in numerous sectors: R&D, defense, inspection and maintenance, etc. The strongest in the industrial market is undoubtedly the logistics sector.

 

Best robotics companies uses robots in logistic sector 

Why choose Robotnik?

Nowadays, anyone with a general knowledge of the industry knows the use of mobile robots to transport goods in environments such as warehouses or even outdoor environments, such as those with large companies made up of several buildings that need to share merchandise with each other. The uses are very wide and in the end what it is about is to automate a process that is simple and repetitive, what a robot does best.

This, which is already so accepted in the market, was not so accepted in 2008, when Robotnik launched its first Collaborative Mobile Robots (CMR) on the market for autonomous transport in hospital environments. That experience is what has helped our company to be one of the best companies in the robotics sector. Since then, our logistics solution has been expanded adapting to the different environments of factories, warehouses or industries in general.

Our indoor logistics system is a comprehensive solution that includes robot fleet, location systems, user interface (HMI) and Fleet Management System (FMS). All this is a specific development from Robotnik.

 

What are the advantages of robotics and mobile handling in the logistics sector?

That collaborative mobile robotics has been making its way in sectors such as logistics makes a lot of sense. What would be the advantages it provides? We can cite the following:

  • Easy setup and installation.
  • Appropriate to share the workspace with people.
  • Automation of repetitive or unsafe processes.
  • Different localization solutions available.
  • Flexible routes vs fixed routes of traditional AGVs.
  • Advanced intelligent functions: person following, docking to machinery, voice communication, etc.
  • Advanced user interface (HMI) that allows to generate maps and define localization (waypoints) and routes in a simple and interactive way.
  • FMS (Fleet Management System) for the optimal coordination of a fleet of robots that share a workspace and a set of resources.

Top robotics companies share space between humans and robots

Success factors or how to try to be among the best robotics companies

Among the companies that have managed to consolidate over time, and especially the technology companies, several factors tend to coincide. Among those who define Robotnik like a top robotics company we could mention:

  • Market: when a company is in a booming sector, it is normal for it to progress. From 2020 to 2022 almost 2 million new units of industrial robots are expected to be installed in factories around the world. Europe is the region with the highest robot density, with an average value of 114 units per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing industry.
  • Innovation: any technology company must innovate if it wants to have a benchmark in the market. At Robotnik we have tried to launch products that add value to the market, and we have tried to improve the processes of our industrial customers. There is another way of doing things and mobile robotics has a lot to say about it.
  • Customization: one of the things that defines us the most is our ability to create, and to develop new prototypes that adapt to the needs of our clients. If there is a robot or a mobile manipulator at the base of a project, we can make it happen.
  • Vision: over 18 years there have been some setbacks, but also many successes such as the commitment to certain sectors and countries or specialization in certain types of products (such as, for example, right now in the field of mobile handling) .
  • Alliances: all our business partners have helped us. Our distributors, strategic allies for certain projects... are the ones who have helped us establishing ourselves in the international market or in certain sectors. The path is not usually successful if you travel alone.

 

The list of top robotics companies that are doing interesting things in the world is extensive. We hope Robotnik will continue to be one of them for a long time.

 

Top robotics companies: Robotnik

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Robotnik and the Spanish technologies in the fight against COVID-19

‘El Mundo’ newspaper has just published an article about the different technologies developed by Spanish companies in the fight against COVID-19. Among them are Robotnik's mobile robots that, among other things, help to maintain the much-needed safety distance between healthcare personnel and patients themselves. These are collaborative mobile robots that transport food or medicines or have implemented modules to telemedicine or disinfection. The possibilities are vast.

If you want more information, see the full article here.


robots in healthcare industry

The importance of collaborative robotics in the fight against COVID-19

Robotics has emerged as one of the technologies that is most contributing to the fight against COVID-19, providing numerous solutions to the needs that the pandemic has raised. In this way, also, it has contributed to revitalizing the economy, which has been severely reduced by the health situation we are experiencing worldwide. In fact, it has brought to light the importance of robotics and the prominent role they play at the moment, as it is already happening in the current industry 4.0 and other technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain or cybersecurity, among others. There are numerous applications in which collaborative robotics is already present, something that had to be reflected in these times of crisis.

Why is robotics key right now?

In the fight against the virus, one of the measures that has been shown to work to prevent contagion is to maintain a safe distance between people. And here collaborative robotics has a lot to say.

Specifically, mobile robots working in hospital can perform autonomous tasks such as:

  • Transportation of food.
  • Transportation  of medicine
  • Transportation of  laundry supplies.
  • Disinfection tasks.
  • Telemedicine.

In this way, the physical relationship between health personnel as well as patients and staff in general who transit through the hospital is avoided. All these tasks are the usual ones when we talk about collaborative mobile robotics (this last concept, collaborative means that robots, thanks to the integrated sensorization, can work safely in environments with humans).

Already in 2008, Robotnik noticed the importance of robotics and launched its AGVS robots in several hospitals, which were used precisely to autonomously transport different goods through the hospital. This made it possible to automate a repetitive and tedious activity while preventing it from being carried out by a person, who could dedicate his time to carrying out tasks of greater added value.

Current projects from Robotnik

The same idea of ​​maintaining the safety distance between people is at the base of the RADERPAC project (Rapid Deployment Robot for Pandemic Crises) that Robotnik is currently developing and is funded by the Generalitat Valenciana (Spain). In consists of the development of a modular robot designed to work in hospitals allowing the assembly of a module for disinfection and fumigation (something fundamental in the fight against COVID-19). This same mobile robot will serve as the basis for other health purposes such as telemedicine, telepresence or the transport of loads previously mentioned.

Robotnik has extensive experience in the development and supply of this type of robot, the use of which goes beyond the healthcare environment, also being used in areas of nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological contamination. This technology can be applied almost immediately for many applications, using robots as the first separation barrier against the virus and thus helping to protect the workforce and the patients themselves, which showcases the importance of robotics in this sector.

Other projects Robotnik is currently working on is ENDORSE, which is part of the H2020 program of the European Union. This R&D project is based on developing logistics and diagnosis applications for hospitals. In it, different developments will be carried out in order to automate various tasks within a hospital, from the distribution of medicines and materials to the monitoring of the health status of patients. All of them aimed at reducing contact between people.

There are many applications that are being carried out and that highlight the importance of robotics at the present time. To those already mentioned, the following can be added:

  • Collaborative robotic arms (cobots) as a working tool for physical therapists. These would serve to interact with the patient without having to physically touch him.
  • Robots for the automatic performance of COVID-19 tests.
  • Robots for processing these tests quickly and efficiently. Something that, for example, the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) is working on.
  • Robots to manufacture masks. In Spain, thanks to the help from some large companies, it has been possible to increase the number of masks that healthcare personnel especially needed.
  • Telepresence robots. Based on our Summit-XL Steel, we found a robot that uses the latest advances in artificial intelligence, digital signage, and video analysis and that performs tasks such as analysing the number of visitors, age, and gender of them.

 

In the field of telepresence there are striking proposals that highlight, once again, the importance of robotics. This is the case of quadruped robots that, in principle, were designed for rescue and transport tasks and have ended up serving as a medical tool to check the condition of patients without the need for a physical presence by the doctor, only using the tablet that incorporates the robot.

This same robot has been used in Singapore to, using loudspeakers, send messages to the population reminding them of the importance of staying at least 2 meters away.

The pandemic that we are currently experiencing and that affects everyone, has forced to redouble efforts in all areas. Robotics could not be left out of it. On May 4, the European Commission launched the Coronavirus Global Response initiative and mobilized a total of € 1.4 billion to fight the virus. On May 20, it mobilized another 122 million euros to support a series of R&D actions to combat COVID-19. This framework of actions highlights the importance of robotics, which will continue in force once we move forward and place ourselves in the future that COVID-19 leaves us.

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